Am I Ruining My Kid?

To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise

My husband and I agree on most things—except for one

Photograph by Veer

When it comes to parenting, my husband and I are mostly on the same page. We don't spank our 5-year-old daughter. We're raising her as a Catholic, but we also want her to be tolerant of other faiths and beliefs. And I've learned to look the other way—while clenching my jaw in silent terror—during my husband's and daughter's bouts of extreme Nerf swordfighting.

I did say "mostly," after all.

But now that I'm pregnant with our son, one bet seems to be off: circumcision.

I want my son to have one, and my husband doesn't.

And I'm not just talking a kind of on-the-fence feeling. I'm talking verbal daggers (the marital version of extreme swordfighting), with my husband even questioning my ob-gyn friend's respect of the Hippocratic Oath. (Yes, he went there.)

While I feel there are so many reasons to recommend the practice—reports of a reduced risk of urinary tract infections, HIV and STDs (not that I want to think about that when it comes to my unborn child)—my husband has asked me, "Why would you perform unnecessary surgery on a baby?"

He has even doubled down by asking me to provide evidence from a respected pediatric organization that says it's medically necessary.

Well, Monday's announcement from the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that the medical benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks, a reversal of its 1999 statement, is my own weapon in the battle of protecting my son against potential infections and diseases.

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And that's how I feel about it. Do I like the idea of my days-old child being cut while he's just learning to accept life outside of the womb? No. Do I like the idea that he might have to feel any sort of pain, especially as an infant? No. And do I like the idea of juggling diaper-changing with caring for an open wound?

Let's put it this way: I'm the mom who fainted when her daughter fell off of a step stool and split her chin open. (I had to put my head between my knees after writing that last part, just FYI.)

But I would suck it up, for all of it, knowing that I was making a decision that would positively affect my child's health in the long run.

And it's hard to argue that the process isn't beneficial when studies have shown that it reduces the risk of contracting HIV and STDs such as syphilis, herpes and human papillomavirus, the last of which is linked to both penile and cervical cancers.

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