Friday, June 10, 2011


I have very few parenting regrets thus far. But there are some.

I regret not being able to breastfeed longer.

I regret not seeking treatment for my postpartum depression sooner.

And I regret circumcising my son.

After we found out we were having a boy, I left the circumcision decision up to Ben. After all, he has the boy parts, and he's the boy's father. I told Ben I wasn't crazy about circumcision, but it was ultimately his decision. And Ben wanted his son to "look like" his father. So circumcision it was.

Since Ben elected to do the circumcision, I made him go with Will to have the procedure done. Ben said it was a little gnarly, but that Will did great. He cried when they strapped him on the procedure board, but not at all when they actually made the cut. Will had no complications with his circumcision, and he healed nicely. But in retrospect, I wish we would have left our son intact.

The reasons I used to rationalize the decision seem so foolish now. It's more hygienic. He should look like his dad. Most men are circumcised. It wasn't until months later that I took time to discover the truth. Boys can be shown how to clean under their foreskin, just as girls are shown how to clean their labia. Most boys won't even notice or care that they look different from their father. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not indorse routine circumcision. And the national circumcision rate continues to drop. Only 33 percent of boys were circumcised in 2009 (though this percentage is higher when you isolate the midwest).

The truth is, as they wheeled my baby away to be circumcised, every ounce of me wanted to scream "stop!" But on day two of his life, I didn't yet know to trust my motherly intuition. So I stayed silent, and tried not to think about what was happening to him.

I never actual saw my son's uncircumcised penis. Isn't that crazy? But I didn't change his diaper until after we left the hospital, after the procedure had been done. I still remember opening up his diaper for the first time at home and being horrified at how red and swollen his little penis looked. I knew in that instant we had made the wrong decision.

But as parents, when we know better we do better. So despite Ben's objections, if we have another boy, I will not consent to having him circumcised. I don't presume to know what's best for other families, and I respect whatever course other parents choose for their sons. But it's not something I will elect to do again. I regret having to make that decision at Will's expense.


  1. Well said, Sam! I know I've told you this before but I really like that quote. "When we know better we do better.".....Thanks for sharing!..... Katie

  2. Would love to discuss this more in depth sometime soon.. my husband and I were having this very same conversation yesterday and he's kind of really undecided..


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