Living a fulfilled life without God
For those that have been keeping up with us, you know that we were scheduled to have our third son last week. I didn’t mean to leave everyone hanging, but everyone is doing well. Healthy mom, healthy boy, and ecstatic dad and brothers! Thanks for the well wishes, congratulations, etc. We’ve been on quite a high for a few days with this new precious little boy.
A couple of months ago my wife and I started talking about the topic of circumcision. I think this is a pretty personal topic and one I intentionally didn’t share earlier due to the controversy surrounding it. Comment threads on the web can get out of hand and I didn’t want our decision to circumcise or not to be solely influenced on the emotions that can come up in these conversations. I just wanted to decide what was right for our child.
This topic surfaced while reading some of the godless articles that I read and also on some videos I watched. I was confused by the conversations as people were really emotional about this and comparing it to genital mutilation. When I first heard it, I thought surely they were talking about doing it to older kids, out of hospitals, or something like this. I quickly learned that there are people strongly against circumcision even in a hospital setting, by physicians, with anesthesia, etc. I had no idea this was such a controversial topic since I apparently had been living under a rock. I have two older boys and I don’t even recall giving this a second thought. It’s just what you do in this part of the world/country (or so I thought). So without getting too wrapped up in the controversy, I wanted to just share a personal story from two parents trying to do the right thing for their new child.
It started for me months ago. I read some articles and a few things stuck out to me:
So those were the things that caught my attention: It was painful, it was unnecessary, and it was not as common as I thought. I was having trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of causing my child pain for no reason. I brought this up with my wife who initially was caught off guard by the topic and just thought, “Of course we’re going to have him circumcised.” It took me a couple more months to bring it up, but when I finally did I just asked her to read some of the articles, studies, etc. and asked that we talk about it more. I was really struggling with the idea and didn’t want to have him circumcised, but I wasn’t willing to let it be only my decision. I wanted the two of us on the same page.
After doing some research on her own from some websites that she often visited for childcare tips, she felt the same way I did. We were just in shock that we didn’t know this before. We started feeling bad for circumcising the other two boys, but we really didn’t know better. We just thought you were supposed to and were under the impression that it was medically recommended. We decided to get some opinions outside of our own. We knew that ultimately it was our decision, but we were open to other opinions. I talked to a pediatrician that I know, our boys’ pediatrician, and some other people I work with at the hospital. I was surprised to hear that almost unanimously the professionals encouraged us to get it done. Their reasoning? Because my other boys were circumcised and that he would feel weird. To be clear, the reason I was told that I should allow someone to cut my sons penis and cause him pain for days was because I wouldn’t have enough parenting skills to explain to my kids why their penises looked different. That was it. Everyone acknowledged that this wasn’t a medical thing and was strictly cultural and cosmetic. I had trouble with this. Was I downplaying the psychological effects this could have on him?
As I struggled with the responses, I sought additional opinions. I was really curious if this would have an adverse psychological impact on my child considering his brothers were circumcised and that it is so prevalent where we live. I had a few friends in particular that helped me make a decision. One was a psychologist. I asked her if I should consider this aspect a little more. Her response was very helpful and without making a recommendation, assured me that the important thing was deciding as parents what was best for our child. It will be up to us to communicate this to him when it comes up. Another friend was equally helpful in sharing his thoughts and also keeping me focused on what was best for my child.
All of this led us to the decision to not have him circumcised. We were open to someone giving us a reason to circumcise, but if it wasn’t better than the argument that he will look different than his brothers, we weren’t doing it. I asked my wife days before he was born if she was comfortable with the decision, and she confirmed that she didn’t want to do it.
All was well until the day after he was born. We had discussed with everyone that we didn’t want to do it. Nurses, doctors, etc. were all aware. The day after he was born the pediatrician assigned to us in the hospital came by to check on him. Her and I had discussed circumcision the day before and while I could tell that she felt like we should circumcise him (since his brothers were) she was respectful and ended up telling us that if it wasn’t important to us, there was really no reason to do it. We thought this was the end of it until this second visit. She came in and said that she discussed our decision and situation with a colleague and was informed that the American Academy of Pediatrics was planning to restate their position on Monday, August 27th, 2012 and while she hadn’t seen the statement, had read in a USA Today article that the plans were to note “significant health benefits” to circumcision. She used the word “significant” because the article used it. I was pissed. I couldn’t imagine what would have changed. I have read very recent articles and statements on this and I couldn’t understand what “significant” health benefits there could be all of a sudden. I couldn’t help wondering if the pediatricians were just going to reword their statement to make people feel less bad for choosing to do it. I was confused. I asked my wife if we should reconsider while he was in the hospital. I mean, after all, if there were truly “significant health benefits” why wouldn’t we? How was I to know if this was just the USA Today’s slant on the statement or truly the statement from the AAP? The bottom line is that I wouldn’t know this until we were already gone from the hospital. I was frantically reading everything I could when I finally just realized that nothing had changed. Currently the studies still indicated no need for routine circumcision and I wouldn’t know what the AAP changed until we were home from the hospital. I still saw no reason to circumcise my son, but this created a lot of stress as I really struggled with making the right decision.
So we’re home and our little boy didn’t get cut. I just dropped it and realized that we had made a decision we felt was best for him and moved on. As I was posting photos on Facebook this morning, I ran across an article that mentioned the new statement from the AAP. Basically the only thing that changed was that their previous statement said there were potential benefits and the new statement said there were potential benefits and the new statement removed the word potential. They are still very minimal and nothing to warrant routine newborn circumcision according to the AAP. The use of the word “significant” wouldn’t be appropriate since it’s still not recommended on a routine basis. Essentially nothing has changed and the controversy will rage on. For this family, we’re happy that we didn’t circumcise him and more than willing to engage our family in all necessary conversations around this topic as our boys grow up and start asking questions.