If you have come across some seemingly unfitting items in your teenager’s bedroom, you may be wondering what is going on. At first sight, finding a pacifier or baby blanket may cause you to wonder if your teen is expecting a child or has picked up a job as a babysitter. However, there are other reasons why your teen may be drawn to baby items. It could be that your child has adopted the ABDL lifestyle. ABDL stands for “Adult Baby Diaper Lover.” The ABDL lifestyle is one that highly regards the infancy and toddler phases of life.
If your teen has already presented this lifestyle to you and you are looking for ways to connect with and be supportive of your teen, or if you wonder if this might be the case with your child and you want to learn more about this lifestyle, you have come to the right place. Below we present a list of suggestions for navigating this new ground with your teen, and we invite you to consider possible scenarios so that you can mitigate any risks associated with your teen identifying as ABDL.
Finally, we provide answers to frequently asked questions that will help you develop a deeper understanding of this lifestyle – and as a result, a deeper understanding of and stronger bond with your teen.
Best Parenting Tips for Your ABDL Teen
1) Although your teen being ABDL may be news to you, it is likely he or she has had interest in the ABDL lifestyle for some time now and has been experimenting and learning more about the topic. It is possible they have become well-acquainted with and comfortable with being ABDL. As such, it is important that you keep your shock or confusion at bay when attempting to connect with them.
2) Your teen identifying as ABDL is important for their development of a sense of self. It is essential to acknowledge the courage it takes to identify personal preferences at a young age and stand firmly by them, despite how misunderstood or unpopular those preferences are.
3) Consider that your ABDL teen may require some extra emotional support from you. Since this lifestyle is often misunderstood, it can be judged harshly by peers, resulting in bullying. Creating a strong and safe support system at home helps to offset the effects of ill treatment by peers and encourages open dialogue. It also shows that you’re available to help, which is crucial should you be required to step in.
4) You are already practicing this step: acquaint yourself with what being ABDL means and what some of the common vocabulary is for this lifestyle. This allows you to better understand and connect with your teen.
5) Allow your teen to lead the conversation. Although you may be gleaning some understanding on the ABDL topic, it is important to take a backseat when discussing the lifestyle with your teen. This way, you can get your teen’s full expression and perspective. This helps you understand the thoughts and feelings that underlie their behaviors and interests.
6) Create safe, constructive spaces outside of school for your teen. It is vital that school isn’t your teen’s entire life. Activities outside of school that include quality time with you and other family members are incredibly important for your teen’s healthy development. In addition, encourage your teen to explore hobbies, sports, or other interests to broaden his or her worldview and experience a sense of fulfillment on a regular basis.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Is this attraction to the ABDL lifestyle just a phase my teen is going through?
While it is possible that this is a phase your teen will eventually transition out of, it is important to consider that it may be a lifestyle for your teen well into adulthood. There are ABDLs who live fulfilled, functional lives well into their sixties. The interest in diapers and other baby items starts at a young age and doesn’t allude to anything more than childhood interests. However, some children will remain connected to this infancy and toddler stage, bringing those items of comfort along with them into their teenage and eventually adult years.
2) How do I ensure my teen has a safe experience when connecting with others within the ABDL community?
It is likely your teen has already delved into the ABDL community spaces online. While the “A” in ABDL does stand for “Adult,” interest this lifestyle often begins at younger ages. So, while there are certainly websites geared towards adults, there are also safe community forums where teens can connect with peers who are exploring this same lifestyle. Nevertheless, your watchful eye is of vital importance here. Your teen could still be susceptible to online predators, to inappropriate content meant for adults only, or to connecting intimately with an unknown individual online. These are standard risks for any teenager navigating the internet, so your close attention to online activities is extremely important.
Here are a few red flags to look out for:
- Online predators – This is a common risk, no matter the age of a person. However, children and teens are more susceptible to being fooled online as they tend to be more trusting. Since your teen does not have the life experience that creates a cautionary approach to online communication, you must be present to direct these interactions. Talk to your teen about online communication. Identify information that should not be shared and create parental controls to limit access to adult websites.
- Adult content – Parental controls allow you to designate web content that is age-appropriate for your child. While the ABDL community is supportive and may offer guidance and information on the lifestyle, it is also a sexualized fetish that adults engage in consensually. As such, there may be websites that portray the sexual aspect of the lifestyle in photos and videos that are meant for other adults. It is important to carefully monitor your teen’s access to such content and ensure the websites being visited are appropriate for your teen’s age.
- Sharing private information – Private information not only includes phone numbers and addresses, it includes private photos as well. If your teen is exploring the sexual aspect of the ABDL lifestyle, it is crucial to consider the kinds of photos being shared online and via social media apps. This is also a cause for concern when connecting with an unknown individual, as there may be predators feigning attraction to this lifestyle only to connect with young ABDLs. It’s essential to understand that ABDL is not associated with pedophilia; but considering the nature of the lifestyle, it is quite probable that predators will target this community.
3) Should I purchase ABDL items for my teen, like diapers, pacifiers, and the like?
You can certainly support your teen’s interests by assisting with the purchase of these items or providing an allowance that permits your teen to purchase items that are important to him or her. Reusable products like cloth diapers are a more cost-effective option (at least in the long run) than disposable diapers. In addition, stuffed animals can be a welcome gift to your teen – and they also tend to fall on the more cost-effective end of the ABDL product spectrum. Engaging in this aspect of your teen’s lifestyle creates a connection with your teen and encourages them to be open with you about their interests and activities. The more you know, the better you position yourself to guide and assist them during their remaining underage years.
4) Should I put my teen in therapy and make this ABDL stuff go away?
If your teen is dealing with underlying emotional difficulties, then therapy is of course a great option. However, if your teen is otherwise developmentally healthy, doing well in school, and showing signs of a happy and fulfilled life, their preference for the ABDL lifestyle should be accepted. But if there are emotional issues and you do seek therapy for your child, choose a therapist that has some background knowledge on the ABDL community. It is a delicate subject and misjudging or shaming your teen for their interests could cause your teen to shut down. Without a safe space for open dialogue, you will almost certainly damage your relationship with your teen. Without this connection, it will be difficult to ensure their safety.
5) Is the ABDL lifestyle strictly a sexual fetish?
No. While there can be a sexual aspect to the ABDL lifestyle, some ABDLs do not engage in any sexual practices when immersed in their younger mindset. Some ABDLs simply appreciate the comfort and safety that accompanies their regression into childhood and make no space for sexual activity. Others, however, do explore their sexuality while engaging with the ABDL mindset. It is a personal preference that is decided on an individual basis.
6) Does my teenager have a mental illness?
ABDL interests do not automatically correlate with mental illness. There could be other issues that your teen is encountering that make this lifestyle attractive; but their identification with ABDL alone is not cause for concern. The standard diagnostic manual for therapists does not have a specific outline for the ABDL lifestyle; however, it does fall under the category of a fetish. As you may know, there are many fetishes, ranging from attraction to certain body parts to more involved forms of adult play. These fetishes are not considered alarming unless they negatively impact the person who chooses to engage with them.
So, as previously described, unless your teenager is dealing with anxiety, depression, or another mental or emotional issue, their ABDL lifestyle is likely just a chosen identification based on things your teen resonates deeply with.
7) Is my teen LGBTQ?
ABDL does encompass differing sexual orientations; however, on its own, it does not signify that your is LGBTQ. These identifications do share similarities in that they are often misunderstood, misjudged, and shamed. As a result, those who identify with the ABDL lifestyle may hide their preferences for a while and eventually “come out” to you, to friends, and to other family. Some may choose to keep this part of their life hidden for fear of judgment. While coming out is also very much a personal choice, sometimes harboring a personal truth can lead to depression and feelings of alienation. What your teen needs more than anything is your unconditional love, support, and acceptance.
8) Is my teen using substances that alter his or her mind?
The ABDL lifestyle does not necessarily include drug use. There may be some people who engage with drugs and who identify as ABDL, but these activities are not inherently connected. You may already know that the use of pacifiers in clubs and rave environments is heavily associated with the use of some hard drugs, including molly and ecstasy. In these settings, pacifiers are used to quell the desire to chew or grind teeth. These types of pacifiers also tend to be made of a hard material, not a soft nipple like those seen with baby pacifiers. Those who identify as ABDL appreciate the comfort that suckling on a pacifier brings them and, as such, tend to not bite down consistently on the material. While some ABDLs do chew or gnaw at their pacifiers, the frequency and intensity is much less than the teeth grinding associated with drug use.
If you are wondering if your child has begun experimenting with drugs, look for other unusual behaviors and tell-tale signs. Sneaking out late at night, falling asleep at breakfast or in school, dilated pupils, reduced appetite, and weight loss can all be signals that your teen is in trouble. Approach these conversations delicately, but make it a point to ask your teen if they are experimenting with any illegal substances.
Having an ABDL teen may send you into a whirlwind of questions, concerns, and research on the topic. It is understandable and encouraged that you inform yourself on everything ABDL for the sake of your teen’s well-being. We hope we have provided a few important guidelines for connecting with your teen about the topic. We also hope to bring you some comfort in knowing that you are taking positive steps in ensuring your teen feels understood, loved, and supported. The ABDL lifestyle may not be easy for you to understand, but the love you have for your teen should be the bridge you extend to connect with him or her. Your ABDL teen will appreciate you for this in so many ways – probably more than you know.