Circumcision Should Be Dad's Decision

Jeanne Sager

scalpelIf there's one discussion you can understand a pregnant woman procrastinating on, it's circumcision. Being a woman, you're darned if you do and darned if you don't.

We don't have penises. We were never circumcised (hopefully). And that makes us complete hypocrites when we speak up on the issue.

If you know you're having a boy, or you're opting to be surprised by "who" comes out on delivery day, waiting to have the foreskin fight could turn you and your significant other into the infamous couple who had the first knock-down drag-out in your hospital's delivery ward. 

Don't be that couple. Let Dad decide.

What, you can't believe what you just read? An empowered woman and mother ceding control of a major moment in her child's life to a man?

Let me say it again. Women can only know so much about this issue. I read authoritative sources about circumcision while I was pregnant with my "surprise gender" child. I was interested, engaged, and involved: everything that makes a good parent-to-be. And during that time, with the mystery hanging over our head, we should have been having in-depth talks about the procedure that we had a 50/50 chance of facing.

And yet, I couldn't bring it up. I talked about breastfeeding, spanking, even the dark possibility of death during childbirth and what I'd like to see happen.

I consider us supremely lucky -- on a number of levels -- that the child who came out of me was a little girl. Having that conversation suddenly after 13 hours of labor would not have gone over well. Bless my gentle Southern husband, he would have been unwilling to make a decision without my input. Which would have instantly set off my crab-o-meter because, gosh darnit, I make a lot of hard decisions for our child. It wouldn't hurt to let him make one of the big ones once in awhile.

I made the heart-wrenching decision to stop breastfeeding to seek treatment for my postpartum depression. I chose our pediatrician and took her on her nursery school visit. My husband weighed in on all of them, but in the end, the decision was mine for the simple reason that he trusted me to make the best decision for our child. 

If we trust this person enough to procreate with them, we should be able to trust them with big decisions. That's part of parenting -- determining that your partner has a say in raising a child, and allowing them to play off their own strengths in doing so.

In the case of circumcision, men don't just have the penis -- circumcised or not. They have experience with the big issues: health, cleaning it, standing in a locker room, revealing it during sexual encounters. If they're against it, they have personal experience that says, "Whoa, Nelly, this is not something we want done to our little boy." On the other hand, if he's OK with it going forward, by all means, he's got the know-how to say this won't damage the goods for ... good.

I can't tell you what we would have done if we'd had a son instead of a daughter. I certainly wouldn't tell you what to do with your little boy.

But you can read thousands of pages on the Internet or you can trust the true expert: the man standing beside you. Let him have his say.


Image via Phil_Parker/Flickr

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