Circumcision Regret: The Hardest Conversation With My Son

By Alex Coper © 2016

Tonight I had the hardest conversation ever.

My boys, ages 7 and 1, took a bath together (rare), and my oldest son told me that my toddler may have a rash because the end of his penis was pink (a normal shade, I wasn't concerned). He then asked me why his brother's penis 'looked different' from his.

I grimaced, but told him, "When you were a baby, Mommy and Daddy didn't know any better, and the doctor told us it was needed, so we got you circumcised, and I'm very sorry."

He asked what that was, and (not having time to pre-plan my response), I told him that there was 'extra skin' that was cut off his body. He asked why my toddler has this still, and I replied, "Because we found out it is better if you do have it. But it's okay now that you don't -- your penis is fine." [I panicked in this moment because I didn't want my son to think there is something wrong with him.]

He looked at my toddler's penis and said slowly, "That must have hurt..."

I replied, "It did, but the doctor told Mommy and Daddy that it didn't, and we didn't find out until later that he lied to us."

My son thought for a moment, "Daddy has the skin."

"I know," I said. [My husband was circumcised at birth, but has restored.]

"So why did you let the doctor cut mine?"

"I don't know son, we didn't research it, so I didn't know not to. We're very sorry. Now Mommy researches EVERYTHING."

"Did I cry?"

"Probably. I wasn't there, and neither was Daddy. They wouldn't let us see you."

"Did I bleed?"


I let him think on it, and I could tell he was getting angry. (😢) Very angry.

"Momma, this is my penis. Why did you let them cut me?"

I broke down crying and just apologized over and over...

My son then bent down and gave me a hug, and said, "It's okay Momma. I know you and Daddy didn't know, but I hate that doctor. I want to punch him." I told him that honestly the doctor probably didn't know any better either, but now doctors are learning too. He asked if others had theirs cut, and I told him that many boys do -- as far as I know all of his friends were, because their parents didn't know any better either.

Then he asked if his baby cousin would be, and I said probably. "Mommy tried to talk with them, but they wouldn't listen."

Then it was my son who started crying and saying he wishes they would listen to me...

After I stopped us both (I started crying again too) he asked me if he could see my toddler's 'extra skin.' I told him no - that would pull and hurt him, and that he will pull it on his own when he's old enough. "We don't touch it except to wipe the outside like a finger when he needs it."

He asked what God said, and I told him, "God said to leave babies perfect, but Mommy hadn't read that part of the Bible when you were born." (Easiest way to explain that, I figured.) He asked if doctors had read those things, and I told him that I didn't know if his doctor had or not, but I would assume not.

Then he asked if he could see the 'circus-in-him' (circumcision). I very hesitantly said yes, there are videos of it being done to others... And he said he wanted to see.

So while he was getting ready for bed I dried off my toddler and found an educational video of how the procedure is performed online, and we watched it together.

He said, "It looks painful, but the baby didn't cry." I told him that it was just a demonstration, that I didn't want to hear a baby cry, and didn't think he should either. He said okay -- he just wanted to know how much it hurt him.

I asked him if he remembered when he slammed his fingers in the door (it took off skin), and he said yes. I told him that it hurt worse than that. He got quiet again, and then said he would never 'circus-in-him' his babies. GOOD, I said.

I apologized again, and we hugged. Later on he asked me if girls were cut, and I said no, and he concluded with, "That's not fair that they cut boys but not girls..." I said that's true -- and it is "one reason Mommy and so many others are telling people to not cut anyone." He said okay, and has not spoken about it again.

I wanted to share this experience from our day so that regret parents like me would know what I personally said when the topic came up with my older child, and some of the things he asked of me, to give a better idea of what may also come up in your family. Hopefully this will help in planning what you'd like to say to your own son, so you are more prepared than I was.

Read more from parents raising both intact and circumcised sons at:

Explore further information on the topic of genital autonomy and benefits of keeping your son intact:

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