As far as parenting debates go, circumcision is as delicate as they come and as emotionally charged as breast versus bottle.

The first rule about parenthood is that there is no rule

Nothing is strictly black and white, right or wrong, when it comes to being a parent. Every day it seems there is some new, monumental decision you must make about your child's future; knowing what to do is rarely straightforward. Though it provides a wealth of information, the internet is a minefield of (often conflicting) advice.

In times of doubt, I resort to weighing out the pros and cons of even the most colossal decisions. Simplistic? Maybe. Effective? Definitely. Sometimes you only see the wood for the trees when the facts are staring at you in bullet points. Sometimes you don't realize how strongly you feel one way or the other until the arguments are laid out bare bones before you.

If you are currently considering whether to inflict the final cut on your baby boy, consider the following (in bullet form, of course):

Pros 

Cleanliness

  • Research suggests that removing the foreskin reduces the risk of penile infection in the long run. If a circumcision must be performed later in life, then it is undoubtedly more traumatic for a boy or grown man, who will remember the experience vividly. A circumcised penis also has a reduced risk of contracting AIDS/HIV, but this says nothing of STDs and condoms...

Culture

  • Who in their right mind can argue with religious conviction? Not me. While it sometimes makes people do crazy things, if you were raised in a certain tradition or culture and want to preserve that same tradition, then all the power to you. Often, whether to circumcise or not is down to emulating daddy. To some men who haven't been circumsized, circumcision feels as foreign as au naturel to those who can't remember what it's like to be in possession of a foreskin.

Cons

Cruelty

  • Whether the baby remembers or not, no one denies that circumcision is painful, bordering on barbaric. Not to mention the fact that the cut is performed on teeny tiny babies, without anesthetic. And in some religious services the procedure is not even performed by a doctor, in a hospital setting, but in a living room with a drop of sweet wine for the patient (and plenty, it is assumed, for the mother who must comfort him).

Complications

  • Sometimes said living room procedure goes awry. Infections, bleeding, even deformities aren't unheard of, even in the developed world. 'Nough said.

Regardless of what you ultimately decide, own and stand by that decision. And as with any parenting choices, make sure you do what feels right for you, your family, and your personal set of circumstances. That is possibly the only real rule in parenting.

 

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