What It Is:
Circumcision requires the breaking of the adhesions between the foreskin and the glans, similar to removing the adhesion between nail and finger, then the amputation of that skin (which is about 50% of the penile skin; from an adult, the removed skin is about the size of a 3x5 card). Bluntly stated, it is a painful penile cosmetic reduction surgery on an un-consenting human being. If you have even considered allowing this to be done to your son, please watch this video. Here is another video.
Reasons It Is Done:
It is a “cultural” practice—but what do we think of cultures who circumcise their girls? Why do our boys not deserve our love and protection as well? But it still happens because of the infamous imagined “locker room.” The circumcision rate is about 57% depending on your area. No matter what, your son will see both intact and cut penises. So if/when he asks because another kid looks different, wouldn’t it be easier to say, “That’s because you have everything you were born with; that other child was strapped down and had his penis cut.”? What does this teach anyway? That fitting in is so important that it’s OK to do this or this or this to a perfect baby? There is such an emphasis on being independent in our country; maybe this would be a good place for parents to show their own independence from the flock.
The second most common reason seems to be to “look like dad.” If this is a real reason, please describe in detail what your father’s penis looks like. Don’t remember? Didn’t bother taking notes? That’s probably what any child would do. The differences they’d really notice are size and hair and no circumcision is going to make the child look like an adult. Besides, if son’s nose didn’t match dad, I don’t imagine many people would haul a newborn off to a plastic surgeon. And I don’t know about your family, but we see a lot more noses in family pictures than penises. So this really isn’t for the child’s sake; it’s for the father’s. But dad’s an adult; perhaps he can find ways to heal from his own trauma rather than inflicting it on a new generation. What message does this send to someone? That he isn’t acceptable unless he looks like someone else? That his own individuality, his being, doesn’t matter? If it really honestly and truly is so important for son and father to match, then dad can restore his foreskin. A restoring-type device is offered for free to expectant fathers. The maker feels that if a dad knew what it was like to have a foreskin, he’d *never* allow his son to be cut. Often times, moms feel that since dad has the penis, he should make the decision. But if dad was circumcised, he doesn’t know what it’s like to have all of his genitals—more than likely, mom does. How would mom feel if she was missing the hood of her clitoris? That is the biological equivalent. Most moms would think that missing that part of her body would be less than ideal; as the one who is aware of what it feels like to be intact, she would logically have a louder voice in this issue.
Some feel that since they circumcised their first (or first five) son(s), they have to circumcise the rest. One of my favorite quotes is “When you know better, you do better.” There are lots of families who have unknowingly cut one but changed their mind on the second; it’s OK. Second kids have smaller baby books, fewer pictures, not as many new clothes... Let this be one of the benefits of coming later.
Another mythological fear is “hygiene.” Now, honesty, do we really think boys are so stupid that they can’t keep their bodies clean? What kind of message is that? Girls deal with menstruation (which I can tell you is quite messy!), boys can pull their foreskin back and rinse in the shower. It takes two seconds. Really. And when parents are caring for the child, they simply wash the penis like a finger—no pulling anything back (ever!), no cotton swabs, no worries. Having an open wound in the diaper area seems very dirty and hard to care for! Besides, are there any other body parts we’d remove so we don't have to wash? Our outer ears aren’t that necessary, and they have all those nooks and crannies... Our fingernails are such a pain to keep trimmed, we could live without those. No? Besides, Smegma—the feared “dirt”—is actually a good thing.
Religion seems to play a bit of a role in circumcision today. There are those in the Jewish and Islamic communities who are questioning the practice. There is no reason for any Christian do to it. Moroni 8:8 makes it is especially clear for Latter Day Saints that circumcision is done away. Here is a history of circumcision.
Then there is the fear that if it’s not done when baby is new, he’ll have to have it done later. Most of the world’s men are intact and don’t have any problems with it. Having an educated doctor about the care of the intact penis is important, but other than that, the chance of needing to be circumcised later is very remote. And even if it was necessary, let’s look at the differences. A baby can’t understand what’s happening; an adult gets to make his own choices about his own body. A baby nurses tummy to tummy with mom, applying pressure to a wound; an adult eats at the table. A baby urinates and defecates on broken flesh; an adult can use the toilet. A baby is rarely given enough anesthesia, sometimes none is used; an adult will be properly numbed for the procedure. A baby can’t do anything about the pain afterwards; an adult can take pain relievers. A baby’s foreskin is effectively glued to the glans; an adult’s is probably already retractable. A baby’s penis is small, so guessing what is “fore” and what is shaft skin is risky; an adult has a full grown penis and is more easily operated on. Some feel that babies don’t remember so it doesn’t really matter. If that were the case, we could beat them every day and it wouldn’t make a difference. Our brains are always recording—even before we’re born. Just because we can’t bring up specific memories doesn’t mean they haven’t affected who we are. And if circumcision is so terrible that a grown man can’t handle it, how on earth is it ethical to inflict it on a brand new baby?
Some feel this is a “personal decision” which is remarkably odd as the person who has to live with the decision doesn’t have a say. If parents chose to have their child cut, that cannot be undone (although many things can be restored, there are parts that are lost forever); when parents leave their child’s genitals alone, then the child can do as he wishes later. If for some reason he decides to be circumcised, when he understand what the procedure is and how his general life and sex life will be affected, then he can. That’s his choice. If done at birth, his choices are taken away from him.
The foreskin is functional; it is not just an extra flap of skin. Here is a video demonstrating what the foreskin is supposed to do. Whether you believe in God or evolution, someone or something much smarter than us put that there. It’s, well, cocky to think that we’re improving anything by amputating it. Circumcision affects breastfeeding, pain tolerance, diaper changes, sex (for his partner too), and sleep amongst other things. Risks include meatal stenosis, adhesions, hemorrhage, amputation of more than just the foreskin, infection, and even death. It is not cost effective. Why on earth take these chances?
This is a thread where moms speak out about how they feel after allowing their son to be circumcised (“circ’d”). They are very powerful stories. If you have any questions or would like support, these people are great for that too.
This is a decision parents are given that will affect their son for the rest of his life – and their son’s partners. The simple fact is that foreskin belongs to the baby; it is his body. Doesn’t he have a right to it? Circumcision shouldn’t be taken lightly. Please, study, pray, ponder, meditate, and study some more. Your son is counting on you. The more you know, the worse it is.
Families start here
Childbirth and Lactation Educator
Placenta Encapsulation Specialist
Bach Flower Practitioner
Child Passenger Safety Technician