Yesterday I was sitting with a girlfriend while our children were enjoying a play date and the topic of circumcision came up. She had asked if we had circumcised our son and the reasoning behind our choice – out of curiosity.
This got me thinking, what is the reason for circumcision? Why do we or don’t we do this? I was actually somewhat clueless as to answering why others make the choices that they do and to be totally honest, I never gave it all that much in-depth thought. ‘Each to their own’ and ‘whatever floats your boat’ has always been my usual stance on this kind of stuff.
So last night I raised the subject with a few other close friends, and I realised how touchy this topic can be. I heard horror stories from them, of them being judged and shamed for their choices – not only by other parents or their friends and family but by medical professionals they had sought advice from. You see, it seems more often than not this subject has us parents too scared to even share their experience, what their choice was/is or to ask advice from others.
We should be able to openly discuss this without fear of judgement or persecution from the self-appointed parenting police.
Until recently I was a mother of only daughters and looking back then – even with our third daughter and choosing not to find out the gender during my pregnancy with her – I don’t think it was something we gave that much attention to. Maybe because we thought she was a girl or maybe because gender just wasn’t a big issue to us, so it hadn’t crossed our minds. Or maybe because I had two kids under four and was heavily pregnant so I didn’t have the time or energy to think about anything other than surviving through each day with my sanity and body still intact.
Yes, I am sure all three reasons are fairly ignorant, and not much of an excuse for not knowing what we would do if we were put in the position to make that choice. I won’t lie, it more than likely it did pass in conversation at some stage between my husband and myself but never in depth or memorable enough to recall our thoughts on it. I definitely did see my fair share of debates online though, and let me tell you, us mamas can be brutal! Maybe that’s really the reason why I wanted to bury my head in the sand when it came to this topic: Because I had seen other mothers ripped to shreds for sharing and making either choice.
However, with my fourth pregnancy, after finding out he was a boy, it was something that had crossed my mind and I did seek the opinions of and personal experience from medical professionals, other mothers, our friends and family. The reasoning behind each of their preferences was so varied and it seemed to me that there was no right or wrong, it simply wasn’t as black and white as some had led me to believe it was... it was a total grey area.
Ultimately, it comes down to you and what you are comfortable with for whatever reasons you have.
In the end, after many discussions between my husband and myself and taking in all the input of others, we decided not to circumcise. The reason behind this was, well, to be totally honest, it came down to my husband and what his preference was. I left the decision making on this one up to him.
After all, I don’t have a penis, and am definitely no penis expert. I figured my husband is the one who down the track will have to talk to our son all about those bits down there because I am honestly clueless when it comes to caring for a penis (insert hilarious and inappropriate joke here). I didn’t even know how to change a boys nappy - it took me six months not to freak out every time I saw a little doodle when I changed him after he was born. Seriously, girls are so much easier to me, but maybe that’s because I am one, and had three first.
After bringing up this topic today over Instagram, Some of the mamas who shared their experience and choices with me have given me permission to share their own personal reasons behind their choice, which are shared below and I have also provided some quick none bias facts regarding circumcision for anyone who wanted more information on the topic.
A few reasons some Mothers gave as to why they chose to circumcise:
“My oldest son had to have a circumcision when he was school age for medical reasons and the process and experience was extremely painful for him, so when our youngest son was born, it was a no brainer for us. We would prefer to go through it when they’re babies than when they’re older."
“We wanted our son to be the same as his father, all the men in our family have been circumcised."
“I think it is unhygienic to leave them uncircumcised."
“In our culture, it is tradition and a part of our beliefs that boys should be circumcised."
“As a nurse, I see older men who can no longer clean themselves and end up with nasty infections so I wanted avoid that for my son."
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A few reasons some Mothers gave as to why they chose to not circumcise:
“I wanted my son to look like his father."
“It is something that never crossed my mind."
“I didn’t think it was necessary and didn’t even know that it was still commonly done?”
“I couldn’t go through with putting my baby through the pain that I thought it would cause him."
In Australia the rate of circumcision has dropped and it is estimated that around only 32 per cent of Australian men under 30 are circumcised.
So what is circumcision?
Circumcision is defined as the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis.
Why is it done?
From some quick research and from the feedback given after asking others, the choice to circumcise generally comes down to either religion, tradition, personal preference or the less common reason which is medical necessity.
In my opinion, as long as you are making an informed decision, have done your research and spoken with medical professionals you trust than that is all that matters. You need to be the one that is happy with the choice that you are making for your child and be confident in that decision.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else has done or said, it simply isn’t acceptable for others to judge, shame or weigh in unsolicited on another parents decision for making either of these choices. We should respect the decision that is being made and not force our own onto others.
Please discuss any questions you have on this topic with your doctor.
This post originally appeared on My Tribe of Six.