Friday, February 18, 2011

Men Ask, "Why Was I Circumcised?"

James Loewen as a baby with his mother. From the documentary film, They Cut Babies, Don't They?  
View a clip from the film below, or purchase full length here.

After posting Michael Schaap's interview with his own mother, in which he discussed with her the details behind her choice to circumcise him against his grandfather's wishes, we received a number of comments and questions from men of all ages looking for the best way to approach their own parents about this emotionally difficult topic.

Many of them are interested to know what the best way would be to first approach their mother (or father) about why they were circumcised. "How do I amicably do this for a first 'make or break' moment when we've never talked about it before?" asks one young man.

Some men have parents who have become slightly informed on the subject since their birth long ago, but rarely speak of it, or seem ambivalent to MGM. Others are openly pro-cutting, even encouraging grandsons to be subjected to the same surgical amputation and loss that their sons faced. "I know this will be a lot harder to hear [answers to] coming from mothers who still would cut their sons again. But what I'm interested to know, both from pro-intact and pro-circumcision moms, is what is the best way for us to broach this subject with you?" asks another man.

A third father, now in his late 30s, kept his own children intact, but is struggling with the fact that his parents have never addressed his circumcision with him. He knows the effect it has had on him (sexually and psychologically) as well as the impact it has on his wife, but he realizes his parents haven't a clue. He writes,
"If there was some way to get through to them, for some reason this would make me feel better. Granted, it wouldn't bring anything back, or undo the damage, but at least I would know they are sorry that it happened to me and sorry that it impacts me still today. I guess I just want them to be sorry."
Another man, in his 60s writes:
"I wish I had known enough to ask my parents about my circumcision when they were still living. Now I'll never know why it was done, or even if they wished it to be done in the first place, or if the surgery took place without their prior knowledge. I do believe, however, from various comments made over the course of their lives, that at least my father felt remorse over it."
The letters continue from other men:
"If I am honest, a sincere apology and getting involved in intactivism would be what I'd ultimately like to see. I had the chance to meet Marilyn Milos and she said that she apologizes every time she sees her sons. She acknowledges she was lied to by a medical system, but readily admits guilt for not having known better at the time. What I would give to have my own mother respond in this way. But how do I even start in on this conversation?"
A young man in his 20s writes:
"I think I am going to be having this discussion soon with my mom and dad. I really need to know exactly what happened and how it happened and why it happened. I've had some other health problems for a while now and I know my mom tends to blame herself for them, even though it's in no way her doing. So I wonder if this is anything she's ever thought about?"
A young man who recently discovered what is missing as a result of several intact friends writes,
"You know, my mom didn't circumcise me - a doctor did. Maybe I should just start by saying I've learned more about circumcision, and know that it was done to me, but not by her, and ask if this is something she wanted a doctor to do? My mom gets super defensive about everything, and I don't want her to shut down. I just have some questions I'd really like to know the answers to without her thinking I am being accusatory in the process."
 A teen says,
"I don' even care what they say. I just want to know WHY."
Throughout the course of correspondence, one thing is clear - men simply need an honest, sincere discussion where they learn the truth of what happened to them, and why. And really, they deserve to know. It's summed up through this man's statement, "Just as one of my female friends, circumcised before she can remember it, has the right to know why it happened to her, I have the right to know why I was circumcised."

It is readily apparent that a lot of cut men are hurt (or angry) if/when parents refuse to become informed on what was done to them and taken from them, and subsequently do not offer a sincere apologize. However, an apology teamed with action goes a long way to help heal wounds. One of the men who runs CircInfoSite.com had an excellent idea he shared with us: Rather than just ignoring it, or saying 'sorry' without sincerity, parents have the opportunity to donate to an intact cause, or purchase information to give other expecting parents, in the name of their own son.  We can show him that we authentically wish to save other boys and men from what happened to him, and honor his healing in the process. There are many excellent organizations operating solely on a donor basis (Saving Our Sons, The Whole Network, NOCIRC, Intact America, etc.) and changing lives along the way. It is an opportunity to get involved and make your apology take flight. Or, you can just start talking with others around you.

There are many parents who have already taken steps in this direction:
  • Marilyn Milos, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, is one well known mother of circumcised sons who has spent her life working to abolish that which was done to her boys. 
  • Other examples of wise parents of a circumcised son include Megan and Aaron Robinson, who share their powerful testimony here, and have saved many, many babies since the birth of their first son (and second, intact, son) in his honor. 
  • Dani Arnold-McKenny at Informed Parenting is an advocate who says she made a choice to "completely accept the truth of what I had done and use my newly acquired enlightenment to reach out to others." 
  • Mandi Woolery teaches natural childbirth classes, and after the circumcision of her first son, she started reaching out to other parents so that no one unknowingly puts their boys through the same. In A Public Apology to My Circumcised Son, Woolery offers up sincere remorse for what happened, but also encourages other parents not to remain silent. Talk to your sons, and then talk with others. 
  • Another mother and advocate, Lauren Stone, has spent the last 28 years, since the birth of her first son, reaching out to new mothers before they make the same mistake she did. In A Letter to My Son, Stone writes, "I don’t ever want another mother to say they didn’t know, or ask why no one told them the truth before it was too late. I think one of the hardest realities a parent can ever face is knowing that their own ignorance caused their child harm."
The list of those speaking up - saying sorry - and going on to make a difference is unending. 

So, what is the best way for a man (of any age) to approach his mom or dad with this question?

Several men have asked if we'd pose this inquiry to mothers on our Facebook page. One suggests the answers "may help save some relationships" because he, like countless others, has wrestled with how to handle the hurt, anger, and resentment over the loss of a normal, full sexuality and a part of his penis, while having parents who do not want to understand, let alone apologize, for what was done.

By posting here, we hope to provide an opportunity to respond for those who may not otherwise do so on Facebook. If you are the parent of a circumcised son - please share how it would be best for your son to approach you on the subject of his circumcision.

How should he broach the topic for the first time with you?
What would you like him to say/not say?
How are you likely to respond?
What would you like him to know?
Do you have suggestions for other men who would like to talk with their parents for the first time about their circumcision?
Is it better done in person, in a letter, on the phone, or in email?
Does the age of your son make a difference (teenager vs. adult)?
Are you currently an intactivist or pro-cutting?
Would you make the same choice again today?


Thank you, on behalf of men across North America, for your responses.




One gentleman shares the story of the first time he learned he was circumcised, and how he asked his mother about this:





View Micheal Schaap's documentary, Mom, Why Was I Circumcised? here.

For additional information (books, websites, articles) see: Are You Fully Informed?


~~~~

82 comments:

  1. I was 19 when my mother took the initiative of first revealing to me why I was NOT circumcised.
    She has never revealed why she told me nothing while I was coming of age. She simply did not know how growing up intact in the USA can be a very self-conscious experience. My childhood pediatrician fully supported her preference, but she did not clearly communicate that fact to me until 2009!

    In 1989, I revealed to her that I was an intactivist, that I was very happy that I was intact, and that one reason I married the person I did was because she was an American woman who did not object to intact. We talked some more. After my father died, we talked again. And 15 months ago, my 88 year old mother revealed that when I was born, my father and his mother were so insistent on getting me cut that my mother had to threaten to end her marriage in order to shut them up.

    My mother has no contact with North American intactivism. Nevertheless, some of things that have come out of her mouth over the years are 100% intactivist, such as "a man should have a lot of say about how the end of his penis looks and works."

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  2. I really enjoyed both videos & this post. I have never discussed circ w/my ILs, they do not know we didn't circ our 20 mo old son. However, I would really like to know why they did this to my husband (and our intimate life together.) Was it just something they had no choice in? Did she feel remorse?

    I have a feeling she would be defensive and my choice would be belittled. DH would never get an apology.

    DH wil never say anything to them. His parents could call me 4-letter words and he wouldn't speak up on my behalf, so I could never expect him to stand up for himself.

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  3. When it comes to my family, I'm not looking for an apology from them for anything they did or didn't do to me. I want them to stop being proud of the things that are now proven harmful and I want them to stop promoting it as the best/only way to do it. I want to stop being told that I'm wrong for deciding differently with the sly comment, "Well that's what we did with you and you turned out fine." I want them to say, "Well, we've found out that some of what we did wasn't the "best". We recommend speaking with a doula, midwife, ND, etc." Please stop telling parents to circumcise, crib-sleep, antibiotics for everything, bottle-feed, etc....just because you did it. And no, your kids didn't turn out fine. You've got 2 in prison (life and 20yrs), one of your others was an alcoholic by high school, and your other you allowed a man (21, she 14) to live in your house and date your daughter at the same time. NO, you didn't do a good job, you're lucky!

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  4. Should he discuss it first in a letter, email, phone, in person? From my own experience, one night my mother called to see what I was up to. I said I was getting involved with the anti-circumcision movement because...Then I was interrupted by my mother who said, "well your wrong!" I asked, "why was I wrong?" She said, "because boys are dirty down there!" Her wall went up and that was it. It deeply affected our relationship and I lost my younger sister because she accused me of going for my mother's jugular. How could I have approached this better?

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  5. I learned in my early adolescence that I was cut. Never knew why. Never really cared.

    But it wasn't until I was 19 in April of 2010 that I did some research on the purpose of the foreskin and what they did to remove it and frankly I was PISSED!

    Doing more research I found information on how to grow a replacement foreskin, not as good as the original but at least it would cover my glans. Almost a year into my restoration my parents found out I was doing it and wanted to know why. That was my perfect opportunity.

    In our discussion I taught them a lot and I learned a few things myself. It turns out that the weren't educated on the matter and thought it was the right thing to do at the time.

    I was still pretty pissed that they never talked to me about it my whole life and I went through life thinking what I had was normal! Well, that's my story anyway. :(

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  6. I was talking with my husband's grandmother recently and she said when her babies were born, she was knocked out with Ether, and then her babies came back to her already circumcised. This was Canada in the 60s.

    In England in the 60s, my Grandma said circumcising was between you and your doctor but it was not common at all. No one did it.

    My MIL said she had the choice with the last two boys but was told circumcised is better. There was no other information for her. She felt like she had no other choice. :(

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  7. I'm so curious as to what my mother-in-law's response would be but I can't ask her. I wish my hubby would.

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  8. Anon - So sorry it went that way. I can't offer much advise but I do hope you can reach a point with your family where the issue can be addressed openly. At the end of the day the decision was made to alter your body without your consent and think you do have a right to know why. The letter option is a good one and maybe writing your feelings down for your mum would help her understand.

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  9. Because your father was circumcised and the idiot didn't know better.

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  10. Remember: just because people make mistakes, doesn't mean they're an idiot. Once we know better, we do better.

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  11. Most of the times, these parents were lied to. Such a shame! :(

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  12. No way, doctors go to university for 7 long, grueling years. They ought to know better, otherwise they do not deserve their qualifications.

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  13. ‎@Jeaux: the human body does not come with a User Manual. We humans have to write that Manual, in good part by making mistakes and learning from them. What to say in sex ed is not at all obvious. To get the English speaking people to understand that circumcision can damage pleasure and functionality has been a long and difficult battle.

    I read some years ago that not a single American medical school offers a course in human sexuality. People assume that doctors, especially gynos and urologists, know a lot about sex, when they simply don't. Worse yet, they are typically reluctant to admit their ignorance.

    @ANI: it is Miriam Pollack who taught me that medical professionals and Jewish religious leaders LIE to parents. The pretend to know things about circ that in fact are only conjectures and urban myths.

    We baby boomers were often circumcised without our mother's being asked to consent. Our parents then said nothing to us about it. The question of circ did not come up in my boyhood word, because everyone was cut! The resulting silence and ignorance made it very difficult to question and challenge routine circ. I am amazed that the USA has come as far as it has, despite a lack of leadership from the medical profession.

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  14. Unfortunately, many doctors learn in school that the foreskin has no value. They paid a lot of money for their education and they'd like to believe it is worth something. Doctors are human and can go into denial like anyone else.

    But enough with the red herring, seriously, what is a best first approach for a man? Many men want and need to know this. So if we could get some productive answers, it might save some relationships. A mother calling the father an idiot is not helpful.

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  15. The men want to know what is the best way to ask their parents this question without it turning into an argument or the parents raising the wall?

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    Replies
    1. What is the point in confronting your mother?
      Mothers are often highly uninformed about everything and that is why there are so many victims of this destructive practice.
      It is sad when people do things and don't think one thing about it because maybe it was done to them and they just pass the terror along. I heard a lot of circucised males grow up screwed in the head.
      It just rolls downhill, I guess, but mom was a victim too, a victim of blindly trusting a profession for your health and life.

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  16. My mothers answer was because it's cleaner and the doctor told her it had to be done. She was in the other room and could hear me crying but did nothing. She never thought about it again until I found out I was circumcised (found out when I was 17). She blew me off. Later we had a long talk and she says it was her decision and she would do it again no matter what I have told her. When asked when I gained ownership of my own body, in her eyes. Her response was "it was my body too. I made you inside me. It was my decision".

    I have become distant from my mother since this conversation. I can't even imagine doing something like this to a child let alone my own son. I have 2 intact sons and have nearly finished restoring!

    The physical harm is easier to heal then the psychological ever will be. Not sure when I will be ready to start that healing process but at least restoring helps!

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  17. I'm sorry Matthew... I wish your mother had been more compassionate.

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  18. I'm always happy to hear about success stories of men restoring their foreskin. I mean, you should have never had to in the first place, but I am glad there is SOMETHING you can do to get back some of the function (and feeling of wholeness) you were robbed of. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. I just blogged about this yesterday. One of the reasons we kept our boys intact is that we knew one day they would ask us about their circumcision if we had it done. What would we have said?

    My husband is circumcised and he had asked his mother about it when we were expecting our first child. She said it was done because it was thought beneficial at the time and also everyone did it. My husband had the unfortunate luck to be born in US in the 1980s. He understands this and doesn't feel any resentment towards his parents. However, he wanted his own children to make the choice for themselves. So what would we have said? "During the time you were born, it wasn't thought beneficial? No medical organization recommended it? And no it wasn't normal. In fact almost everyone we knew were their sons intact." So thinking about future conversations definitely swayed our decision to keep our sons intact.

    On another note, when my 4 year saw the intact logo I put on my blog yesterday, he wanted to know what it meant. I told him that it meant he was intact and not circumcised. I asked if he knew what that meant. I explained that we did not cut his penis as a child - that he has all of his penis. He asked me why penises get cut. I told him it was for a few reasons, but usually because people think it's healthier. He exclaimed, "My penis is not sick!" I told him he was right and that's why he got to keep all of it.

    I think in response to the original question, one should talk to their children as soon as they can understand. Like sex. You shouldn't wait until the right 'moment.' I feel that part of ending RIC is not only to raise intact children but to have them know why they were left intact. If my boys grow up with pride of their foreskin they might not give into the pressure to circumcise their own children, should it ever happen.

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  20. Neither my mother nor my MIL were given the choice. It was just done one day, and the next time the babies were brought to them, they were told that they had been circumcised. They probably *would* have circumcised them anyway, just because everybody else did; but they weren't given the choice, any more than my husband and brother were.

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  21. Kathy - my brother was circumcised in the same fashion. My mom said he was brought from the nursery so my mom could feed him. The nurse told her he'd be a little groggy he was just circumcised. My mother said it surprised her but she was going to have it done anyhow.

    Dave - I honestly don't know. I think it some cases like that it doesn't matter what you could say or how to say it. If some people don't want to hear things, they won't. The only experience I have is when my husband asked his mom. He just simply brought it up. She didn't seem to have any problems answering his questions.

    I think it's along the same lines of asking someone you know who is expecting a son if they plan to keep him intact. It's difficult to bring it up casually in a non-aggressive manner.

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  22. All good parents do what they THINK is best for their children, and all good parents make mistakes along the way. I doubt any parent on Earth has circumcised because they desire to harm their child. They do so because they are either ignorant of the facts or are unable, for whatever reason, to identify the harm. This is why I think the focus needs to be on education.

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  23. My husband also had the misfortune of being born in the US in the 1980s. My MIL only had my husband circumcised because that's what everyone did! I believe she instantly regretted it as soon as she heard him scream bloody murder. I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't have his younger brothers circumcised. Although that would anger me--why did my husband have to suffer in order to spare the others?! It does anger me that she did it, but he holds no bitterness.

    Luckily for me, my husband supports my decision to not have any future sons circumcised.

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  24. I am surprised that with as much as I've seen this passed around already, so many are avoiding answering the actual question. Maybe it is really that hard? Maybe mothers don't really know themselves how their sons should address this? I would answer if I could, but my sons are all intact, and there is no way I'd ever let anyone harm them. Someone would have to kill me first to cut them up because I'd lay my life down to protect their wholeness. So I guess I can't really grasp how this conversation is best had.

    My husband has attempted the conversation with his mother, but she has her head in the sand so far that it almost seems like she refuses to even acknowledge him. She turns off. He had her watch a video once, and she just sat there, looking down most the time, and did not say anything. You'd think she would at least say, "If I hurt you in any way, I am sorry."

    To me, love means recognizing that we all make mistakes as parents, and caring about our children - whether young or adults - enough to be honest with them about the mistakes we've made. It isn't hard to say you are sorry. Or at least, just to listen.

    I wish I had answers... But I will encourage others to respond. It is obviously a difficult but needed question to ask.

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  25. I think it could be helpful to say something like "I've been researching/learning about circumcision and I know there wasn't a lot of this information available when I was young, so I was wondering how you made the decision to circumcise." Depending on his age, it's entirely possible that it was hospital policy rather than deliberate parental choice, especially if he was born before 1970.

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  26. I'm a big proponent that you need to take 'year of birth' as a consideration as well. My husbands parents are Jewish and his father a doctor. In the 1980s, there was this idea that the foreskin was carcinogenic, so parents did have good intentions :/ Sadly, we now know since 1989 that it's bogus and now doctors are just being greedy and men and mothers selfish to their' own 'likings'. I'd follow Neah's lead on this one.

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  27. Indeed, you will have to proceed gently. Do not use any kind of accusatory tone initially or they may instantly go to defensive mode and shut down, robbing you of the open discussion and apology you may need for your own closure on this issue. However if you ARE met with a blatantly belligerent or angry denial, I would give them hell. Get your feelings off your chest and make sure they know this was a violation and is not okay.

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  28. I think it could be approached almost like genealogy- where you interview an older person about people who you never knew... only in this case- it's your own life you are asking about. I think it's important to get the whole picture, the story of the birth, who was there - how it progressed, how your name was chosen, what the hospital scene was like... included in that- if it doesn't come up... 'When was I circumcised... and why... and by whom". It might be exceptionally hard for a man who has gotten really emotionally geared up for a "confrontation" and wants an apology to take a step back and let his mother tell her story in her own words- but I think that is where breaking the silence should start...as an interview of her experience. That will lead to other questions- including the reasons given, if consent was given, and if there were any people who tried to prevent or promote the circumcision- relatives, friends and medical professionals. For some reason- as the original question was phrased... this all falls into the mother's lap- but it's very likely that she was not the person pushing for it to happen. I think it's also reasonable to be open about feelings and thoughts- all of them... even things like, "This is very hard for me to discuss. For some reason, I'm not sure why- I feel very ashamed and feel that I have a duty to be silent, and I am being bad for even asking about these details, this causes me a lot of distress but I need to know the story."

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  29. I'm definitely pro-intact and have a 20 yr old son who is happy to be intact! I'm not sure how a man should begin the conversation with his mother, but the way I have looked at it before (in speaking to my mother or other mothers who have serious regrets about having their sons circumcised) is to console them by saying, "You did the best you could, with the information provided to you at that time." Most women were NOT informed of the choices, or the impact of circumcision, especially years ago. Moms feel enough guilt, so we shouldn't ladle on more. The important thing is that conversation (any conversation) is a starting point. And the tide IS changing!

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  30. i wish i could take it back! that i would have trumped my husband's choice. time machine please!

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  31. My partner is from the USA (I'm British) and like many men across the pond he is circumcised. Now, of course like most men over here I am intact, and you can imagine it spurred up some interesting conversations between us! I'd studied MGM prior to meeting him in person and I must admit I was horrified at what they did -sorry, DO- to babies in your country: a medically-developed nation to boot!

    My partner is very interested in restoring what he lost because he's rather pissed off (understandably so) about his circumcision (and he's see how much I enjoy mine ;) ). Continuing a fine old British tradition any children we have will NOT be circumcised. Not that it's ever recommended in the UK anyway...

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  32. My husband was born in the 70's, and there was really no option given to his parents. His Mom did become a fan of Dr. Dean Edell later on, and learned through him that it was not necessary to circumcise. She told my husband that she was sorry and that if she had it to do over again, she would have prevented it. I think that her apology went a long way because it was very easy to convince him to leave our 3 beautiful sons intact. Contrast that with my own brother who was circumcised and had a repeat surgery due to adhesions. My own parents continue to believe that circumcision is necessary despite the complications that their son suffered, and my brother went on to circumcise his own son. A lot of acknowledgment and healing needs to take place in our culture before this can become a thing of the past.

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  33. Here is an account of my experience a long time ago. I'm not sure I remember the conversation exactly but it was something like this:

    I didn't realise I'd been circumcised until I was about seven. I was playing in the woods with my new best friend and we stopped for a pee against a tree. Suddenly I noticed his willy was very different from mine just as he noticed it too and said; "I want to show you something" He the proceeded to pull back his foreskin saying "look it's just like yours now!.

    I was dumfounded! It wasn't quite like mine. The glans was all purple and wet and shiny, unlike my dry dull pink plum I had on the end. Then as he pushed his skin back over, it disappeared completely and he teased me with;
    "You can't do that can you? My mom told me it's because you've been circumcised."
    What does that mean?" I asked. It was the first time I'd heard the word.
    "It means the doctor cut off your skin off when you are a baby so you can't cover your knob like I can"
    "Why would they do that?" I gasped.
    "I don't know" he said, "but lots of boys have it done. My mom said it's wrong!"
    He said this with a hint of superiority which made the shock I was feeling, worse.

    He didn't say any more but as soon as I was home I confronted my mother:
    "Why did the doctor cut the skin off my willy when I was a baby?"
    My mom laughed and bemused, said; "You ask me why the doctor cut the skin off your willy? Tell me, why not?" and laughed again.
    I was lost for words. There was no answer to that.

    She told my dad when he came home. He thought it was funny too.
    "Don't worry son!" he joked, "it's not an important bit of you. Anyway, it was your mom's idea, she got it done, blame her".

    Later I did have another go at mom for an explanation. She told me; "Boys with foreskins have to wash under them. It stays cleaner for you all the time without that skin, that's all," she said. "Like I have to go on at you to brush teeth and wash your neck, it's one less place for me to worry about in case you skip it!."

    Then it got worse. My dad took a job in the UK. (we're still here BTW.) I went to school in England and found more boys had foreskins and only a few of us had been cut. We got teased a bit for it. About this time i had another conversation with my mom. She was unrepentant and still amused. Then she saw I was a bit weepy going through puberty and drew me to her and hugged my head. "You've sure got to come to terms with it son. What's done is done and it ain't going to grow back."

    Sad but perhaps that helped. I began to see there was no point in losing sleep over my lost foreskin. Sure, I felt increasingly niggled that my body wasn't 'complete' and I'd had no say in it. What did my mom know about willies? No don't ask! Sufficient to know my dad was cut and that must have influenced her.

    Eventually I persuaded myself to accept it. As my dad said; Worse things can happen to you and you'll be fine with it." I suppose I have to swallow that reluctantly but there are days when i wonder about what might have been. My advice for men circumcised against their wishes is to stop agonising over it and try to think positive. I have done this and found one tiny crumb of comfort:. Hey my English wife likes it!

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  34. I never thought about it till I was pregnant with my first son. I then thought about my husband and the massive scar on his penis and his inability to masturbate and the lack of sensitivity around the glands. I then thought about all the comments he made in our marriage about how when growing up he hated that he could not pleasure himself, fist feelings about being broken.

    His mother said 'that is what we were told to do back then and you didn't argue about it'.

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  35. I talked with my MIL about her choice to circumsize my husband when he was a baby. I asked in the context of discussing that we weren't circ'ing our baby boy, and were wondering why she chose to circ her boys long ago. She wasn't offended to be asked, given I wasn't making any judgemental comments, perhaps. She simply said "that's just what you did back then" and "I don't really even remember deciding one way or the other, or it being done".

    My husband isn't traumatised by being circumcised, as he puts it: "I've never known any different". But he certainly didn't want it done to his own son; didn't even think it really needed to be discussed, it was so obvious that we wouldn't do it.

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  36. My mom always said that she waited until my brothers were 8 days old and the were numbed up and with her during it. My brother in laws and hubby were circ'ed soon after they were born, and "nursed the entire time". So apparently they were spared some of the horror.

    The first time I had a negative perspectiv: my Niece's dad was circ'ed when his family came from Iraq to the US. He was 5yo and had terrible memories of it.
    We ended up not circ'ing our son and he is the first intact on both sides of the family. Though my MIL periodically mentions that her (unaccepted) sister didn't circ her son and all the cousins teased him and he chose to have it done when he was 12. At least he chose right? None of the other boys had the option, and besides my son only has one cousin; a girl 13 years older than him who freaked out when she was a circ'ed baby. He also has an "older brother" who when he saw my son wasn't circ'ed told me how proud he was that he looked like him. Coming from a 4 year old it was priceless

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  37. My husband's parents were very open about talking about it once it came up in conversation. We did not circumcise our son but his brother did (for all the usual reasons, but mostly "to look like dad"). My husband initially wanted to circumcise for the same reasons but once he did the research on his own (we actually couldn't talk about it at all without fighting so I had to leave him be to find his own way and be thankful it came up in our Bradley classes) felt it was not a good idea (and ended up expressing regret that maybe he was missing something sexually).

    He was born in Germany in the early 1970s to American parents. His parents told us that the doctors and nurses said he should be circumcised because all boys in the US were circumcised and they would be moving back there eventually, but that it was not something done in Germany. so they did it. His mother expressed regret at not knowing better and was interested to hear all the reasons why it's not considered necessary anymore and supported our decision. As far as I know, they have not discussed this with their other son who did circ his son.

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  38. What about wording it like this: "Mom, what were the reasons your doctor gave you for circumcision when I was born?" That helps you avoid sounding accusatory and actually places any "blame" on the doctor himself, not her. Best of luck!

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  39. My friend asked his mom and she said she didnt know and got real quiet and said she thought she had to. It was kind of sad.

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  40. Don't make it sound like you are upset about it because that will make her feel really bad and not want to tell you the truth. The key is to have an open conversation about your birth.

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  41. Just ask her straight out. tell her that you're just wondering why, cause things are so different now days

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  42. If you think she will be, open lightly. A mother may be embarrassed or ashamed about it or it may strike a nerve for her. But its always worth a shot...

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  43. I don't have a circumcised son, but if my son asked me the opposite "why didn't you circumcise me" my answer would be that we did what we thought was best for you at the time. I mean, if we are talking about a decision a mom made 20-30 years ago, most parents in the U.S. didn't even realize it was an option. So definitely don't go about it in an accusatory way, as I'm sure, as a mom, she was doing what she felt was best at the time.

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  44. It was a different time, most people didn't even question. :(

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  45. No mother has a reason to flip out. It should be the men flipping out! I wish I WOULD refuse to take responsibility for a decision that affects someone else life that I took it upon myself to make. How wack!

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  46. This same thing came up in conversation with my MIL. My husband and both of his brothers are circumcised. She told me that it's simply what everyone did, they didn't even give her an option at the hospital. It was standard protocol to cut all boys before they left. She wasn't upset about or offended that we asked. It is what it is, many people simply didn't know better.

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  47. Moms have cut their sons due to Mother guilt. Nothing more - not to be mean or hurtful but because Mothers are fed that we will mess up our kids if we don't do certain things. Which is all CRAP, but as a Mom holding a newborn baby you love more than you could ever love anything, you are so scared and when Drs nurses grandmothers all say do it and you just had a baby so hormones are crazy you believe them.

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  48. Ask in a non-confrontational way, allow her to say what she needs to (even if it isn't a "good" answer or the "right" answer or her excuses are known myths, etc) and ask her questions to clarify all while keeping it low-key. Even my mother, who is very open-minded, had strong feelings come up when I talked to her about circumcision. Take it little bits at a time and remain compassionate to what she is saying, how she feels, etc.

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  49. I had my first son circumcised. I did it out of ignorance. I believed the doctors and other parents who said it was in the best interest of my son, that it was more hygienic, that it wouldn't hurt, that he would be made fun of in the showers when he went to school... (Incidentally, I ended up homeschooling!) I learned a lot in the years after I had him and my next two sons are intact. So my advice is to take what you know and move on. Leave your own sons intact and tell them why. Be open about it. Tell them you are different, explain the reasoning behind why some people choose it but why you know it is better not to. Most importantly, find it within yourself to forgive your mom. If you have an open relationship, just tell her there is something on your mind that you'd like to discuss. If you don't, it may be best to just let it go. If she does discuss it with you, remember she didn't have the information you now have. She was lied to (whether intentionally or not) and did what she thought was best for you... and that is something you cannot fault her with.

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  50. My first 3 I didn't do it to be mean or to hurt them but honestly I thought it was best BUT I am thankful I didn't circumcise my 4th boy.

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  51. My brother was circumcised and I asked my Mom why when my son was born and I refused to do it. She said it was normal procedure back then, something only few people refused for whatever reason. Back then it was free as well, so why not? Now its a hefty bill which stops many people. But she did tell me, back then they didn't know any better, and knowing what she knows now, she feels so, so bad for doing it :(

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  52. I would assume that most men who were circumcised were because their parents (like many parents, even now) assumed that it was "just the thing that was done" and their doctors didn't tell them all the info, why it doesn't "need" to be done, or better to keep boys intact.

    When my 4yr old son was born, we didn't have all the info, and just thought it was something that was done. Wish we had known better.

    I would just say, "Hey Mom, I've been hearing a lot about how they don't really think circumcising is the best thing for boys anymore. What was the thinking when I was born? I know there are some guys my age who are not circumcised, and I'm just curious why you decided to circumcise me?"

    Definitely don't point blame. Especially if she does feel guilty about it, you want to give her the chance to apologize that she made that decision for you.

    Many men just accept what was done as over and done with, and are not concerned with reasons. In that case, there's really no reason for Mom to bring it up once he is grown.

    I assume it may come up with my son, because there will be some boys in gym class who are and some who are not. At that point we will discuss it, or if he brings it up before then (like if we have another boy, he will NOT be circumcised - that may bring up a question for him).

    Good luck men, and be loving!

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  53. I think even nowadays, for most parents it goes like this: Nurse comes in, "oh, time for circumcision - we'll be back in a jiffy!" Baby goes, gets the surgery, screams and/or falls into semi-coma from shock, nurse brings jr. back wrapped up and 'out,' and assures parents that "he did GREAT!". Nothing else is said. Mom feels terrible when she changes his diaper later and sees a bloody nasty wound on his privates but what can she do now?

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  54. Moms may get upset because we now feel guilty because we didn't know it wasn't necessary. We were told to do it and it was all was said. Now we know and some moms just can't deal with being told they did something wrong. Me, I will apologize to my son. I didn't know.

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  55. I think just getting to the point is the best way. Just ask, "Mom I've always wondered what brought you to the decision to have me circumcised" and let the conversation go from there.

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  56. My husband and I left our son intact but both sides of our parents strongly feel he should be circumcised. They think its easier to clean because they've never actually seen an intact boy, and they hold onto the myth that HIV 'sticks to the foreskin.' These are the reasons they cut my husband. I do not care so much what they think now - my child is a WHOLE boy! There's no way I'd put him through pain unless there was truly a necessary reason to do so.

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  57. If you are Jewish, it's likely a mom will be proud and be glad to share. I don't think she will be ashamed. She will probably defend her choice, what else can she do now? I can't imagine men getting an apology, esp. If she's never considered it after the fact.

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  58. So I asked my mom why she circumcised my brother, I just was talking about my boys and brought it up. She literally didn't know! She said she just did what the drs said to do. She also embraced me for being a stronger mom than her and for questioning things and not just going along with whatever. Great discussion we were able to have.

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  59. I was circumcised and I know that my mom did it because she thought it was in my best interest. I can tell you the answer for most parents: because they thought it was best. Were they wrong? Yes. But we have a lot more resources available to us now then our parents did back then... we left our son intact and we explained to our family why we did and left it at that. We feel good that we at least broke the cycle...

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  60. Ask yourself what you are hoping to get from the exchange. Do you want to understand the reasons behind the decision? Are you upset about it and want to be able to express that? Be honest with yourself, and then be honest with her. Asking 'why?' when you really want to say, 'I'm angry' will probably lead to a frustrating exchange for both of you.

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  61. Think about how much misinformation is out there NOW about this issue. Now imagine when you were born. People were made to feel foolish for even questioning the procedure. They were told if they didn't circumcise, then their son could have all kinds of problems, to only have to face being circumcised as an adult, which (they were also told) would be a more painful and complicated operation. I can only imagine that, just like now, most parents make the best decision given the information they have at the time.

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  62. Every man has the right to know why if he feels the need. It was HIS penis chopped off...

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  63. Its possible your mom gave it careful thought, but its also possible (probable for that time period) that it was just what was done, no questions asked. Probably the only 'choice' she was really given was whether she wanted it done tonight or tomorrow morning.

    Personally, I have one circumcised and one intact son. I'm expecting the questions about why they look different. I have guilt for cutting my first, I know its going to be difficult for me, emotionally, to talk to him about it. I was ignorant when he was born, it was the norm where we lived, his father was circumcised... I didn't give it a second thought. But I started doing research and decided against it for my second. Its not that I didn't (don't) love my first son, or that I wanted to cause him pain or that I didn't care about his penis, it was the opposite. At the time, its what I thought people did because it was best for baby boys to be circumcised.

    Probably your mother didn't give it another thought after it was done. It was just "his penis", it wasn't "a circumcised penis." It was what it was and she was used to it. She most likely doesn't have any regret or remorse for having done it, but if you ask her flat out, then you're questioning her mothering and essentially, her love for you.

    You could restore your foreskin if you're interested in that; one brand is The Tugger.

    Do what you can to take the "blame" off her. Or maybe make it a generic statement, like you could mention how they've (relatively recently) discovered all the benefits of having a foreskin, and casually ask about what doctors thought about circumcision pros and cons back when you were born, and then ask what deciding factor was for her. Make it about facts, instead of feelings. There shouldn't be any anger towards her, you're just curious why she decided that, you're not curious whether she didn't love you enough to keep you intact. Make sense?

    *hugs*

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  64. If you're seeking an apology and don't get one, try not to be disappointed. Most parents weren't provided with all the information back then (and they're probably not today, either) so in all likelihood, I would imagine it was done because it was 'the norm'.

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  65. I'd go with Elaina's answer definitely.

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  66. Just ask her. "Mom what were the reasons behind my circumcision?" It's a question I hope my boys ask one day. So I can tell them I was uninformed uneducated and pressured by family. I want to tell them how sorry I am and give them information on why they shouldn't do it to their sons. I can't change what was done to them, but I can still advocate for and protect my grandsons one day.

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  67. I'm glad to see people talking about this. Some say what's done is done and it doesn't matter - but it DOES matter to many of us... we had a piece of our body removed and would like to know why. We deserve that much. I hope others don't belittle our legitimate feelings on this.

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  68. ask nicely. She was probably just trying to be a loving mother.

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  69. If it were my son asking me, I would want to hear something along the lines of "I'm not mad at you, but can you tell me why I was circumcised?"

    I hate that someday he may ask me this, but I thought we were doing the right thing. Just ask, she loves you no matter what.

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  70. It looks like at least one other person suggested asking what the common reasons were for circumcision back then. Rather than making it a 100% personal question (why did YOU circumcise ME), it explores the norms back then. Depending on how she reacts, you could dig deeper and ask which of those reasons stood out/influenced her the most when she decided. Heck, it might not have even felt like a "decision" at all on her part, much like being induced at 41 or 42 weeks doesn't feel like a "decision" to many women (because you CAN decline, but it's not made to sound like an option). Good luck, men, with the conversation, should you choose to have it. ♥ And your reasons for wanting to know are valid. Will it change the result? No. But if you have the question burning in your mind, I think it's very cool that you're going forward with getting answers...closure.

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  71. I was SO afraid my mother-in-law would be upset with me for NOT circumcising my son, I thought she would be offended but she was SO awesome about it and actually wished she hadn't done it to her sons!!

    So you never know. Maybe you could say "when I have a child I don't know if I want to circumcise them, how did you make the choice" and remember that circumcision rates were extremely high for a long time.

    Also when I was a first time mom if my daughter had been a boy i would have NEVER questioned the med community, she would have been circumcised because "it was what was done" and I have a feeling that is the reason a LOT of babies are cut.

    I just knew more by the time my son was born and I knew I had a choice...

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  72. There are still plenty of women who think its best to have boys circed. One older woman who I have knowen for years said "My land, its what should be done for the health of the boy and any women he has relations with"!

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  73. 'son, i've been waiting for this day, you probably have been told that i've been to prison, for a somewhat silly reason i assure you. now that you've asked, i can tell you. the ob failed to read the birth plan, yet signed each page... the last page stated that he agreed to trade his testicles for your foreskin, here they are.'

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  74. I was circumcised at the age of four after I got a penis infection. The operation (and recovery) was botched and I was left with some additional moderate scaring that, fortunately, doesn't really affect me. After I'd healed, my mother told me that doctors had put a 'ring' around my penis because of the infection, but that in time the ring would fade and it would look like it did before.

    When I was about nine I was having a general look around and asked my mother when the ring was going to disappear. It was only then that she told me about the circumcision, and I realised that this would mark me out from my peers.

    Knowing I was different meant I never had the confidence to shower at school, and as a result I shunned all sports. Of course I then started to put on weight, which harmed my confidence even more - and so the cycle went on.

    Eventually I was able to get over my personal issues but, knowing the lasting physical and psychological damage that the operation causes, swear I will never ever have my son circumcised. I hate my parents for what they did - honest to god HATE them.

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  75. I often wonder if men engage their siblings in this conversation as well. As the only girl in my family, I was the first to question the necessity of cutting and attempted to discuss it with both of my brothers, my mother and my SIL's. My eldest brother continued the cycle, my younger chose not to cut his sons, my mother when approached has often said that if she knew any better, she would not have done it, and seems honestly remorseful. Bad information from bad doctors.

    The hardest discussion I will have is probably with my SIL who is a LPN and has said that she will cut her sons when and if she has them.....even after telling me that she had assisted in circumcisions during her rotations and how horrible they were.

    That is just blind stupidity.

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  76. I had two sons circumcised. Only one of my sons is intact, I wish all three were. When my first son was born I could hear his screams of pain, but was too afraid to do anything. So when it came time for his brother I said "Hell No". 7 years later I had a different husband and he wanted it done. If I had known what I know now I would have said no to it then. I feel really badly I allowed my sons to go through this pain for nothing. I hope one day I can talk to them about it and apologize. I told my son that is intact that he was not circumsized. He always knew he was different but did not know why. If more new parents actually saw what they do in a circumsision they would not do it. It is cruel and it should be stopped period.

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  77. I will confront my mother who is always in denial and ignorant on purpose. She had it done maybe when I was 5, think it was cause of a tight foreskin, BUT it couls have been treated with creams or making the opening bigger!

    Now, I have always felt shy and different, even a size smaller than most average sizes, so I avoided gym showers etc etc.

    Swimming classes was a nightmare being the onlt one circumcised.

    Circ'd does look better, bit the scars left behind are scars for life.

    In the circ I am sure the dumb doctor cut more inner foreskin causing the penis to become smaller, hence the head stretches and you see a scar an inch away, referred to as a tight cut.

    I could fuck up the doctor for this, there were alternatives. I feel violated.

    35 years now, I have hibernated my shy feelings and really deednt feel like a real boy or man, I felt less a man and punished by having a cut penis.

    I felt indifferent my whole life, shy to show it too anyone, even to girl frieds.

    And relationships are a nghtmare, I have become to worried to have girlfriends cause of my cut penis.

    How can a parent do this to a child?

    It has fucked me emmotionally and I feel raped.

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  78. roger desmoulinsJuly 04, 2013 10:49 AM

    In the 1930s and 40s, more and more USA maternity wards adopted a "routine circumcision policy", whereby all boys born in the ward were to be circumcised by default, without asking the mother. In those days, nobody questioned a doctor's judgement. Health insurance paid for RIC without question. It was not done if the mother objected, but she had to raise the subject. Millions of mothers in labour checked into maternity wards, not knowing that their sons would emerge 10 days later with altered penises. In those days, mothers gave birth under anesthesia. and the baby was whisked away into a nursery, where nurses changed his diaper and bathed him. By the time Mom saw her son naked for the first time, his circumcision had largely healed.

    In the 1970s, a New York hospital circumcised a Jewish boy by mistake, without asking the mother. Religious Jews do not undergo RIC, but are done on the proverbial 8th day by a mohel, in a synagogue or living room. RIC forestalls this religious obligation. The angry parents successfully sued the hospital. By 1985 or so, the default stance was no circumcision unless the mother had authorised it in writing. This is a major reason why the fraction of boys who undergo RIC in the first few days of life has declined from 90%+ to 55%. However, "informed consent" is interpreted as hastily telling the mother only the downside to RIC that the AAP concedes. Specifically, mothers are not told about how the moving foreskin enhances sex, or about the occasional serious botches and deaths. The task of disseminating this grim information falls on us intactivists.

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  79. Haven't done it yet, but I will say what I plan on saying~ why did you guys decide to circumcise? Simple, it doesint show the anger and humiliation I feel, and it has less of a chance of her just shutting down on me. If she gives me a legitimate answer, fine ~ I will note how I plan on not mutilating a part of my childs body. And if she gives me a crappy answer, then it will probably turn into an argument.

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  80. There is a company Foregen that is looking to reverse the damage of circumcision thru regenerative medicine and launch a clinical within the next 5 years or so. Here is the link www.foregen.org

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