The Circumcision Decision: 24 Parents on How They Made the Choice

I'm giving birth to a baby boy, oh, any minute now. As someone who usually follows social norms, I'm really surprised by how put off I am by the thought of circumcision. Growing up in the U.S., circumcised penises seem normal to me, but I can't wrap my mind around why I'd willingly let a doctor cut off a piece of skin located on the most sensitive part of his male sexual organ. It seems bananas!

With that said, I also don't want him to mature into a teen and realize his penis is different. I don't want him to feel more self-conscious about his body than he probably already will at age 16. Is that a good enough reason to circumcise him? Probably not. And I'm still on the fence about this decision (despite the ticking clock), but here are 24 real-life quotes from moms and dads who either chose to circumcise or chose not to circumcise their baby boys.

More from The Stir: Circumcising Your Son Is Nobody's Business But YOURS

PRO-CIRCUMCISION:

1. "Everyone does it and they come back to you five minutes later as happy as a clam! It's quick and more sanitary. He will THANK YOU when he is a teen."

2. "I knew someone who opted to do it when he was 18 years old and he would tell you first hand to do it in the hospital after birth."

3. "The chances of problems and infections are greatly increased unless carefully taken care of on a daily basis, and that is from a medical opinion working in the hospital. The number of boys who come in with infections is at least doubled with boys who are not circumcised. My sister's son almost had to be circumcised at 2 because of numerous infections. I can only imagine the trauma that would be."

4. "Little boys don't always wash as well as they should, and at some point, we moms and dads can't do it for them."

5. "My theory was that God planned us the way we are ... not to have to get an unnecessary surgery right after being made 'perfect' in His eyes. Having said that ... my husband was strongly for circumcision. He wanted his son to look the way he does and mostly everyone else he will grow up with. I gave in because he wasn't budging, and well, he is a guy, so I thought it was more of a guy decision, if that makes sense."

6. "After having it done, I never thought about it again."

7. "I did it for religious reasons. Also because I read that some parents have to bring their kids to the doctor to get it done with they are older, like 5, due to infections or problems. Also lower STD risk."

8. "A vagina you just wipe. When a penis is not circumcised, the skin has to be pulled back and cleaned underneath. Little boys are not going to do that."

9. "Here is the male point of view. Do it. It is easier for sanitary reasons and also self-esteem. When he gets older and is in the locker room or whatever, people tease for differences, especially these days when everybody is putting everybody's business out there."

10. "My dad had to be circumcised when he was 35 because of health reasons. He said it was the worst pain ever and that he wanted to kill himself for a few weeks."

11. "I once knew a man who was not circumcised and at 30 he went for an operation to do it. He felt awkward as a kid and a man that this wasn't done as a baby. He actually said that he experienced discomfort in the area."

12. "Do it! It's not up for discussion! Your son will resent you if you don't!" -- from a dad

More from The Stir: The Truth About Circumcision and Sex -- From a Guy Who Knows

ANTI-CIRCUMCISION:

1. "I don't have a boy, but my husband and I considered the question before we knew I was pregnant with a girl. After studying the available research, we determined that there was no health advantage to doing so, and there were enough risks to warrant not doing it."

2. "I am only sensitive on one tiny area on the underside of my penis ... Your man might not have a problem like mine but, if he is circumcised, he has been desensitized to some degree. Depending on the tightness of the cut, circumcision transforms between 20 to 80 percent of a male's sexually sensitive tissue into medical waste."

3. "It's not common outside the US (unless you are Jewish or Muslim), and even here, the trend is reversing. The kid can always get it done later."

4. "I don't understand the argument about infections -- this is America. We have body wash!"

5. "It impacts pleasure later on."

6. "In some countries, similar arguments are made to support female circumcision, too. Food for thought."

7. "As for cleaning it -- my son is only 4, and we haven't had to do anything. He sits in a soapy tub and then we rinse. I've heard that some problems occur if you are trying to clean it more than necessary -- forcible retraction?"

8. "I did not circumcise. I couldn’t find a compelling enough reason to do it, and it just seemed like a barbaric thing to do to my son’s most tender part. I also got the sense that the tide was changing, more and more parents were choosing not to circumcise, and he wouldn’t feel out of place later on if we skipped the snip."

9. "So many people aren't circumcising now that about half of his classmates will look just like him. Also, performing surgery on him just to avoid teasing seems a little icky to me. Kids will find something to bully about no matter what, if that's what they intend to do."

10. "Why would I strip my baby of his rights before he has a chance to defend himself and what he wants to do with his own body?"

11. "My two boys were not circumcised. Leave things the way Mother Nature intended them."

12. "You're born intact -- why wouldn't you want your baby to stay intact? Medical science has come a long way since this tradition began."

Did you have your baby circumcised? What's your take on it?


Image via Marie Smith/Flickr

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Mrscj... Mrscjones

I had my son circumcised due to his father. I wished i didn't it was harder keeping he clean right after the circumcision and there really is no point other than cosmetics. Teach your son how to wear condoms and clean themselves then the reasons to have a circumcision is moot. Sorry but girls tend to be on the ripe side if they don't bathe versus boys. Girls can be dirty just like boys. Expect more from your children and they will give you more. You expect your son to be a nasty man who doesn't wash his genitalia and have sex with women without condoms that's what you get. If I have another son i wouldn't go that route again.

nonmember avatar andie

^ The comment above is one of the most ignorant, foolish arguments I've heard about circumcision. If you want to have your son circumcised, do it. If you don't, don't do it. But @Mrscjones, that's just idiotic.

nonmember avatar Miss Ann Thrope

If you're already uncomfortable with the idea, I wouldn't do it. When I had my son, I honestly didn't give it much thought. My husband and parents were very pro-circ. So much so that my parents offered to pay for it. Since I can't always be the one watching him, I think getting it done was the right choice for my circumstances. From what I've read, when caring for a boy with an uncircumsized penis, you not only have to know what to do, but what not to do. My parents "know everything" and are reluctant to learn any new ideas about child rearing. I have enough trouble with disagreements with them, but I do rely on them.

I don't think it's as important of a decision (pro or con) as either side makes it out to be. Do what makes you comfortable.

nonmember avatar Ingrid

We do not live in the U.S. We have three boys. None of them is circumcised. Circumcision is not a common thing in my country. Only Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised. I have never even heard of infections. I never heard of a boy getting infections.

We never pull skin to wash the boys. We also do not teach them to do that. No doctor ever commented on that, nothing ever happened.

Come to think of it. i never saw a circumcised men. It is just never done over here. Unless you are Jewish or Muslim of course.

nonmember avatar Sarah

My cousin just had his done at the age of 31. My uncle wanted to have his son circumcised but my aunt did not so they didn't. He is still ticked at my aunt. Lol I don't have sons so I will never have to decide.

Freela Freela

I wish you had added to your article some comments on how to properly care for an intact penis on an infant or small child- you have several comments about how the foreskin has to be retracted to clean underneath, but never mention that this is NOT true for infants and young children.  The foreskin should never be forcibly retracted, to do so actually causes adhesions/pain/infections that is often blamed on being intact. Whatever you choose to do, do it with accurate info so you can care for your baby in the safest possible way.  If he's intact, this means NOT retracting the foreskin until the child can retract it easily himself (for some kids, this can take a long time to happen.)

Frost... FrostyMelted

Why are people so eager to talk about their kid's penis? It's creepy weird. 

Bruic... Bruickson

^ agreed Frosty. I don't discuss my daughter's vagina with anyone so I don't get why so many people feel the need to have such in depth conversations about their kid's penis.

nonmember avatar Miri

Most of the pro comments are about looking like other males and infections. To clean an intact penis you do NOT have to pull the prepuce back. Just like to clean a female infant you do not have to break her hymen. It is as simple as that. Those infections come from tearing the prepuce from the glans. You do not tear your fingernail from the nailbed to clean your nails, don't tear your baby's foreskin off to clean his penis.

nonmember avatar Leslie B.

Frosty and Bruickson- did you get part of your daughter's vagina cut off? Probably not, so that's why it's an issue, we are talkking about cutting off parts of a baby's penis, it's kind of a big deal.
And as for care- really, good God, there is nothing special that you need to do for an uncirced penis. There are no special rules, except one- Do not forcibly retract the foreskin. It will retract on its own. If you do it too early, you can cause problems. That's it.. end of story. Otherwise, good old soapy bath and water and you are clean. nothing else to do.

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