Monday, February 13, 2012


My perspective on most things is pretty black or white. Things are either right or wrong or, at the very least, worse or better. I can't help it, I'm human. Most other humans will not admit it, but I know they agree with me. What would we be fighting all of these wars for if we all really meant it when we said "Let's just agree to disagree." Come on! Circumcision, though, is one of the very few topics for which I allow a "gray area".

We have opted not to circumcise our son. At the same time, I pass no judgment on those who choose to circumcise. First of all, I have to respect the fact that circumcision is tied to ancient cultural and religious practices. Circumcision is not something that makes a parent's life easier, unlike a lot of decisions parents seem to be making these days. This is a decision parents make based on generations of tradition. I totally get that.

DH is circumcised. I come from a family of circumcised males. So why the bucking of tradition for us? Well, first, we are practicing Christians, so the religious tie isn't quite as intense as it is for Judaism and some branches of Islam. (Let's be honest, being "Christian" can mean A LOT of things these days, so rules are flexible.) I actually did speak to a trusted pastor and friend and he confirms that my son will not go to Hell if he is not circumcised. What a relief.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here. Actually, this kind of thing had never even crossed my mind during my first pregnancy. Then we found out I was carrying a girl, and what was the point of discussing it then? Fast forward a year and a half and I am now carrying a boy. A friend of mine, a mom who I would NEVER consider even the least bit granola, mentioned in passing that her son was not circumcised. It got me thinking and that lead to research. I consulted some other granola moms whom I respect. Once I made up my own opinion on the subject, I brought it up to DH.

Most research I found was pretty pro-circumcision. It seemed mostly applauded because of it's social popularity in the US. Although statistics seems to show that Americans have only a 50-50 chance of being circumcised (allowing for regional differences, of course), I find this so hard to believe. I only know a handful of uncircumcised men, not that I have been taking a poll. Take for example, a conversation I had almost a year ago with a girlfriend. She is extremely liberal in her political views and open-minded when it comes to "alternative lifestyles" (and no, I'm not just referring to the gays). In a voice layered with absolute disdain, she announces that a mutual friend has decided not to circumcise her future sons simply because her husband is not circumcised. She acted as if the decision was completely moronic. I didn't really know what to say because, again, I hadn't given much thought to the matter until a few months ago. It has simply been my experience that popular US opinion is that circumcision is the way to go.

Nevertheless, I can't personally shake the feeling that it is an unnecessary cosmetic surgery. I keep playing the scenario in my head and I can't stomach it. I give birth to him and hours later he is whisked away from me to have the skin of his penis cut off. Call me a wimp, but I just can't handle it. It seems to go against everything I believe in when it comes to parenting. And if you will indulge me to circle back to the religious factor, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that God made the human body "in His perfect image", except for the skin on the tip of the penis. Here's how God made you, but we can make you better. I don't get that.

DH was hesitant, at first, understandably. Most of the anxiety stemmed from a fear that his boy would be ridiculed in the locker room. My husband is like a slow cooker Sometimes, you just have to throw some ideas and/or information at him but you can NOT expect any kind of response right away or even in the very near future. Basically, I said my piece and then walked away. Well, okay, we did exchange a 15 minute question/answer session, but then it was done. I knew he just needed the time to think about it on his own. I cautiously brought it up about a month later and he very casually answered, "Oh yeah, I'm fine with that. I did some research." And that was the end of that. Score.

I feel like this has been more of a ramble than a solid op-ed piece. Let me at least leave you with some kid of words of wisdom or guidance or SOMETHING! If you are on the fence, all you can do is research the topic, discuss your concerns or questions with other moms or mentors whom you trust, and, ultimately, go with your gut. If you haven't given it any thought, I encourage you to. Watch a video of a circumcision. Contemplate how this experience will be for your son. Sure, he won't remember it after a while, but does that make it worth it? My son can always choose to get a circumcision later in life, should he decide in the future that he really hates his foreskin.

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