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Dude to Dad Episode Twelve: “The Circumcision Decision”

It's 2018. Do you still want his to look like yours?

There is no consensus when it comes to parenting. Everything is up for debate. Perhaps you’ve heard of a little thing called the Internet? It used to be where I looked up NBA box scores. Now it’s where I find out how I am failing my child.

Parenting shaming is the new norm, with many parents and non-parents flexing their twitter fingers and jumping into Facebook threads. I’ve already stumbled into some of these minefields in my short parenting career. To be fully transparent, I have invited these conversations, putting my son and my parenting skills on display for all to see. I’ve already learned about the varied opinions on breastfeeding and daycare. Now I’m learning about circumcision.

The short story: we circumcised our son. You can watch the long story on last week’s episode of Dude to Dad. I’m Jewish and circumcised, and even though our son isn’t going to be raised in that faith, I made this decision for him. My wife didn’t. (Due to this fact, I offered an unfortunate turn of phrase in the above video, saying that circumcision is a male decision. It is, of course, not. It is a family decision. What I meant to say above is that in my family, it was my decision.)

For me, circumcision is cultural, a family tradition. It’s a health decision, though one I recognize is not all that impactful to my son. The CDC agrees that circumcision is better for preventing STI’s and HIV, though the studies show that the benefits are negligible in the United States.

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Not long after the birth of my son, I casually mentioned to my friend that my son was circumcised. His son was not. We got into a long debate about choice, ethics, pain, and parenting. I decided to have him on Dude to Dad to air his viewpoints. It was enlightening. I agree with him on a lot of his points. I still don’t feel bad about circumcising my son.

Parenting decisions live in gray areas. I will make hundreds of decisions for my son that he will have no say in, many of them more important than his foreskin. This is what parenting is. I WILL make mistakes. I’m sure he will be upset with some of them. But I will explain why I made the choices I made, where he comes from, and what those choices meant.

We live in an age of outrage. We can connect to it faster than ever before. It is waiting for you no matter what choices you make or don’t make. This is not to handwave those who disagree with me. Online parenting community, I am listening to you! But at the end of the day, when the laptop is closed, you make the choices you feel comfortable with. And you hope that your children will learn to accept those choices too.