Sunday, January 11, 2015

The one with the circumcision

Dear Dad,

I am a single mother to a 2 year old girl, and am 8 months pregnant with my son.  My boyfriend left when he found out I was pregnant, and I grew up without a father, so there is no man in the picture.  

My question is, should I circumcise my son?  I have been reading things about it, but it seems there are as many people for it as there are against it.  I don't know what to do.  Please help, I need a man's input, and I feel like I'm cutting it too close to the due date!

Dear 'Cutting':

When I first started this column, and tackled a circumcision question, I had to literally walk away from my computer over the unbelievable debate the topic sparked. I contemplated throwing in the towel on 'Dear Dad'.  After the dust settled on the post, I decided not to answer any more questions on the subject, but carry on with the advice column. I am willing to make an exception in light of your situation, and I hope I can help from a now more experienced and neutral perspective.  

As a circumcised male and father of three daughters I had never given the matter of circumcision much thought.  In researching for the initial circumcision question, I, too, found many pros and cons regarding the subject.  I was discussing the circumcision debate with my family, and much to my shock (and my wife's), my mother advised me I was never circumcised.  

It turns out some men are born with little to no foreskin, while others have a significant amount.  There are many arguments that circumcising your son may have health benefits, including std prevention, and there are articles written about preference for the look of a circumcised penis.  

When I was in college, I had gone on a camping trip for 3 days with friends.  When we returned, we learned that I had won tickets to Woodstock '94, but would have to immediately leave for Saugerties, NY - allowing no time for even a quick shower.  I returned three days later (and six days shower free) to what can only be described as the most putrid odor and burning/itching I had ever experienced.  I went to the doctor and learned that I had an infection (not an std) that was easily treated with an antibiotic cream, and was caused by poor hygiene.  Looking back, I must have enough foreskin where infections like these can happen.  If you decide to not circumcise your son, be sure to teach him the importance of meticulous hygiene.  The event was a bit traumatizing, even to this day.  

I think fate played its hand well in giving me three daughters because even in spite of the trauma from that one infection I had in 40 years, I would still not circumcise my son if we had one.  My wife, on the other hand, has strong feelings on the subject and advised me she would insist on circumcision, simply because of cosmetic reasons.  I am glad circumcision is not something my wife and I have to make a decision on, as we both feel pretty strong on opposite ends of the choice.  You are in the position where you can make the final decision on your own.  

My advice, Cutting, is to discuss this with your pediatrician.  Your doctor is a wealth of information, and it is part of his/her job to help educate you on subjects like this.  Do some research on the subject on your own as well, and in concert with your pediatrician's advice, decide for your son what you think is best for him.  There is no right or wrong answer, except for the one you decide is best for your son.  

Good luck to you!

As part of this advice column, I encourage readers to use the comment section to have a conversation on the subjects that are presented for 'Dear Dad.'  I will be around all day to be part of the conversation.  What are everyone's thoughts?  

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