I Circumcised My Son Out of Love


The decision of whether to circumcise my son or not was the hardest parenting decision I have made in my nearly five years as a parent. As a Jewish mother, I was especially torn because even though I'm more culturally than spiritually Jewish, the tradition in my culture made it very hard for me to consider not making the cut.

Almost from the moment we found out the baby had boy parts, my husband and I dreaded the idea that we had to make this choice. And yet, I'm glad we had the choice to make.

One woman's crusade to end circumcision is having repercussions all over the country, though the bans have only been truly explored in the Bay Area (where it's on the ballot this fall) and now in Santa Monica, California.

It's repulsive. For so many reasons.

As a Jewish parent, I take great offense to the notion that somehow one woman's distaste for a cultural practice could derail something we Jews have done since the dawn of our faith. It's unconscionable that something Jews and Muslims feel is commanded by G-d would be banned by the government.

But there are even health reasons for doing it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has always taken a neutral approach to the issue, but even they are amending their recommendations to stress the health benefits a bit more, namely the role of circumcision in preventing HIV transmission. They aren't outright recommending it, but they're saying it's a choice every parent ought to have. And it's one San Francisco and now Santa Monica would like to take from us.

Never mind that the potential ban is anti-Semitic (which it is). Never mind that the potential ban completely ignores any health benefits circumcision gives. Mostly, this is an attack on personal freedoms, on our ability to dictate what is right for us and our family. I hated making the choice, but I am glad I had the choice to make.

The fact is, part of being a parent is making hard choices. If we start banning all the things we find distasteful and unnecessary, we would be banning everything from earrings to braces and beyond.

I hated everything about making that choice. I hated talking to our pediatrician on the phone for a total of three hours. I hated crying when I thought of both choices. And I hated feeling cultural pressure to do something I didn't necessarily think I would do otherwise. But in the end, standing at the bris, I felt strong. Even as I also felt my heart breaking (I was eight days postpartum!) and had tears streaming down my face, I realized it was a good thing. What we did, we ultimately did with intention and love, in a ceremony standing right beside him. We did it because we love our son and want him to be part of our cultural history. We did what we felt was right for him.

This is the same way any parent makes a choice. You hold your breath and you hope it's the right one. What you don't do is become so self-righteous and sanctimonious in your own choice that you invalidate the choices of others.

I respect and love my friends who chose not to circumcise, but I expect that same respect and love in return. I thought just as long and hard and did just as much research as they did. I hated making that choice, but I was glad I had one.

Do you support the circumcision ban?



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Jen Shadrick

you know its so sad to see mothers verbally attack each other over things that are personal choices i mean reallly.?!?!?!!?  mothers have the hardest job on the planet  their jobs are never ending and the last thing we need are other mothers putting us down for our choices!! formula or Breast , to circ or not , cloth diapers or disposable, store bought babyfood or home made.. its never ending.. and its very sad.. mothers catch grief all the time from non parents and the last people they need to add fuel to the fire are othe mothers... instead of verbally bashing a mother for her choice others should say im happy its working for you and drop it....as long as the child is happy healty and thriving what does it matter .... this being said  i do NOT support the ban on circs if it had been mine and my husbands choice our son would have been circ'd but his situation at birth did not allow it  now hes 18 months and we have decided not to pursue it...

Renee... ReneeN1979

I support the idea of the ban only because in those very FEW cases where a circ goes wrong, it is the little boy who either needs corrective surgery later, or who is permanently disfigured, not his parents.

I don't think any of us should have the "right" to risk permanent disfigurement of the penis, arguable the most important part of the body to any boy/man, for our sake. Making our sons "a part of our culture" is something done for OUR sake, as the baby doesn't really care.

I decided, after many arguments with my circ'd husband, to let my son make the decision for himself. Then, at least, if anything were to go wrong, it would've have been because of some need of MINE to see the surgery done.

My oldest daughter decided when to pierce her ears, and she paid for it herself, and cleaned her own ears. My youngest daughter will be given the choice when she's a little bit older (she's 6 now). They will each only get braces if I know they won't actively work to destroy the braces.

And no, I don't think this is an anti-semitic measure. No more than banning female genital mutiliation was aimed at any one people. Parents should not be given the right to change their child's genitals for their own pleasure.

Perhaps the writer of this article is stretching it a bit to make this all about discriminating against Jewish and Muslim peoples.

Newda... Newday2morrow

I believe that everyone has a choice. As soon as my husband and i found out we were going to have our first after being married for 7 years, we talked about everything. One thing we agreed on 100% was that if we were going to have a boy that he would have this done. I understand why people are against it but as it stands now the parents have a choice to have it done or not. With a ban in place, that takes the right to choose. For those who think that it is wrong, how would you feel if the hospital didnt give you a choice and did it without telling you? Your baby is taken away after birth and when you finally get to hold him, it has been done. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but for those who want a ban want their way...which they can have now without it! (and with a side note male circumcision and female circumcision are COMPLETELY different!)

caleb... calebmama

It is not a parents choice to begin with. It is the sons choice. HE will live with what you have done to him, you wont.

Katie Schultz

Removing the clitoris on a little girl in order to CONTROL her more effectively and bring her under a man's power more completely is NOT the same thing as getting a little boy circumsized. There are actual health benefits to being circumsized and sexual pleasure is not impaired in any way. That being said, I respect people who don't get their sons circumsized just the same as people who do. I have two sisters with sons, one on each side of the debate, and we all get along just fine. If I ever have a little boy, he will be circumsized. My husband feels quite strongly about it and I am inclined that way. This ban is ridiculious, especially when you consider the fact that abortion is still legal in those places.

Amber Hayford

If you're worried about STD transmission, parents please tell your sons to use a condom, and tell your daughters to always carry condoms around and learn how to say "Not unless you use a condom."

When I announced that I did not want to circumcise, my inlaws -parents and siblings of my husband- tried to use the STD scare tactic into getting me "to see things their way" and it didn't work. As my husband so frankly puts it, "I'd rather they not have premarital sex, too much drama around it. But if they decide to sleep with everyone they know, then I'm going to teach them to sleep around and use condoms."

Dannielle Richins

The government should have ZERO say in this. People rush at the oppertunity to give up their rights and then wonder why the government has so much control...uh, because you let them run every aspect of other people's lives. At some point, it's going to bite you in the ass.

I do not agree with circumcision. At all. However, it is not a choice for our government to be making for us.


Rumsita Rumsita

I found the comment about how a circ used to be performed very interesting.  I wonder how the procedure morphed into what it is today.

I agree that it is the child's choice.  I have no right to permanently modify my child's body.  I'm not religious, but the thing I don't understand is - why would God put the foreskin there if he" didn't want it to stay?

My first turned out to be a girl, so I haven't dealt with either situation first-hand, but if our next child is a boy, I have no intention of discussing our choice to not circ with any family members.  It's not their business.

Molly Uncensored

"What you don't do is become so self-righteous and sanctimonious in your own choice that you invalidate the choices of others."

That's exactly what you did to your son. You took away HIS choice. If he grows up to be Jewish and wants to brand his body to show it HE should have that choice.

mamac... mamachickx4

I do NOT support the government being able to make decisions in family households like this. My son is circumcised and I STAND BY my decision and FEEL NO guilt by it. I also RESPECT another persons choice not to have it done. I don't feel neither party should be made to feel bad about there choice.

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