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Explaining circumcision to kids

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

How do you start talking to your kids about what circumcision is?

 

My daughter is 12 and son is 10.  I've never mentioned it to either of them since it just hasn't come up.  Several older relatives in our family are intact, so ds has been shown how to take care of his penis.

 

Last night the local news featured an extremely pro-circumcision piece. After hearing the brief explanation that the procedure involving removal of part of the penis, my daughter made a face and said, "Ew.  Why isn't that his choice?", along with, "I'm glad I'm not a boy".  I was impressed that she came to that conclusion based on a *pro* circ piece of news.  She did conclude however, that she doesn't need to use a condom with someone who is circ'ed since circ "prevents" HIV.

 

But it reminded me that she needs to know the difference between intact and circ'ed penises, especially by the time she's old enough to be sexually active.  Same thing with my son, before he starts noticing anyway that not all penises look like his.  So how do you explain this, and how graphic do you get?

post #2 of 9
Really, no puberty books at your house? Seems like the ones I got my kids had pictures and the boy's ones were careful to show a normal male and cut male.

Also, the look difference is only when they are flaccid. When ready for sex, as your daughter will most likely encounter it..... the intact male and the cut male sport the same mushroom head. Though, growing up with an intact brother, she's probably already grokked the difference. If not, art book nudes and trips to the art museum helped my kids a lot with "the details".


These are for you, not necessarily for the kids.

http://ntwrong.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/michaelangelos-david-his-foreskin-bonos-question-and-jewish-hellenistic-and-renaissance-conceptions-of-embodiment/

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a31721753/intact_art
post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Really, no puberty books at your house? Seems like the ones I got my kids had pictures and the boy's ones were careful to show a normal male and cut male.

I don't think we have any puberty books in our house & we have tons of books!  winky.gif We do have one book that talks about where babies come from, but it's just a human development book.

 

I try really hard to stick to the facts, here.  That circ is the removal of the foreskin of an infant.  I don't think I do as good of a job of not being emotional about it but I really get upset about it so I know that comes through.

 

When dd talks about it, I try to ask questions, like, when she says, "I don't like circumcision." I ask her why.  Etc.

 

Perhaps the tide is changing if this is the first it's come up for your family.  

 

Best wishes,

Sus

post #4 of 9
It has came up a few times with my dd who is 11 because of my bumper stickers. I am very vocal in my opposition to RIC and dd knows it. When she asked about what was removed I pulled up drawings on the net to show her. Ds hasnt asked any questions yet but when he does I will follow the same lines of conversation.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by kythe View Post
 She did conclude however, that she doesn't need to use a condom with someone who is circ'ed since circ "prevents" HIV.

I feel like this is going to be another problem with the AAP's new position! Young girls are going to have unprotected sex with circumcised males because the news has confused them.

post #6 of 9

It wasn't a big deal with my sons.  I simply answered in an age appropriate way.  Simple, honest, direct answers seemed to satisfy them.

 

We also bough two books on puberty.  I read them first, and annotated the sections with misinformation or misleading information about foreskins.  We left them lying around to read.  They looked at them, but didn't seem to do much more than a quick read.

 

Regards

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by kythe View Post

How do you start talking to your kids about what circumcision is?

 

My daughter is 12 and son is 10.  I've never mentioned it to either of them since it just hasn't come up.  Several older relatives in our family are intact, so ds has been shown how to take care of his penis.

 

Last night the local news featured an extremely pro-circumcision piece. After hearing the brief explanation that the procedure involving removal of part of the penis, my daughter made a face and said, "Ew.  Why isn't that his choice?", along with, "I'm glad I'm not a boy".  I was impressed that she came to that conclusion based on a *pro* circ piece of news.  She did conclude however, that she doesn't need to use a condom with someone who is circ'ed since circ "prevents" HIV.

 

But it reminded me that she needs to know the difference between intact and circ'ed penises, especially by the time she's old enough to be sexually active.  Same thing with my son, before he starts noticing anyway that not all penises look like his.  So how do you explain this, and how graphic do you get?

 

They are 10 and 12. And there are many kids out there at this age, who are sexually active, for various reasons. They should know about sex already. They should know what their bodies do, how they function, what their purpose is, by now. 

 

Did you clarify that the news piece was wrong? And that protection needs to be used no matter what the penis looks like until one is sure that their partner doesn't have an STD/STI and until they are ready to have babies? 

 

They do need to know, sooner rather than later. And I wouldn't wait until they are asking questions. I would sit down and have a convo with them. They are going to meet people who are different than they are - and have already met them, more than likely. And they will feel more confident about all situations if they are armed with information. Even if they don't use it for 6 more years.

 

These convos need to be ongoing, they will always have questions, even if they don't ask them. By having these convos often, you keep the door open for questions that come up. 

 

How do you explain it all? Matter-of-factly. Something like:

 

 

Remember that news piece we heard? We are going to talk about it. I know it's going to be weird and gross, but it's info you need to know - even if you don't need to know it right now. Boy babies are born looking like this (show picture). Some parents believe the people in the news piece and think this little piece of skin is bad and they cut it off using these techniques (show pictures). This is called circumcision. I do not believe them, and think that all babies should be left just as they are born, so I didn't let the doctors cut you. 

And continue on from there. 

 

I left home at 18 not knowing why I bled every month. Totally not ok, given the world we live in. So my goal has been that my children know more than I did when they leave my home. And maybe I go overboard, and give them too much info, but I would rather they be informed than not. In my house, no question is taboo. We've talked about circ/intact, sex, babies, sex toys, menstrual bleeding, birth control, etc. I would rather they get the info from me, and that it be correct and factual, then getting it from friends or the school, where it's not always correct or complete information.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Seems like the ones I got my kids had pictures and the boy's ones were careful to show a normal male and cut male.
Also, the look difference is only when they are flaccid. ..... the intact male and the cut male sport the same mushroom head.

 

You know I agree with 99% of your posts, but this notion could create some awkward expectations among both young men and women. I won't go into detail, because I want to stick to plain anatomy and avoid any sexual discussion, but about 70% of us remain fully or partially "covered" when not in that state you mentioned. It's normal. But somehow a meme has taken hold and run wild that a healthy penis has a foreskin that automatically retracts upon tumescence. This simple idea has caused untold anguish among adolescents and young adults who fret endlessly on the web that they're freaks or their penis is defective. We do a big disservice to our young males when we imply that it should be "this way" or "that way". Moreover, it perpetuates the idea that's common in circumcised societies that it's better for the glans to be visible. There is great variation and in fact the majority don't function as the oft-repeated line suggests. Now, almost all of us can slip it back with just a momentary gesture; only a small percentage are too snug to do that. But it just doesn't go back on its own, nor is it "supposed to". If it does, great, if it doesn't, great. It's really important that parents let their sons know this sometime before they can drive. (Not that this is related to operating an automobile; just an age suggestion. smile.gif)

 

I think the myth comes from pro-intact folks trying to reassure skittish Americans that the intact penis is not so different after all and from a handful of books with incorrect information. But it could backfire, in that people conclude that if the intact penis is going to look like a circumcised one anyway when rearin' to go, why not just cut off the foreskin?

 

If anyone wants more specifics on the mechanics, they can PM me as always.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by brant31 View Post

You know I agree with 99% of your posts, but this notion could create some awkward expectations among both young men and women. I won't go into detail, because I want to stick to plain anatomy and avoid any sexual discussion, but about 70% of us remain fully or partially "covered" when not in that state you mentioned. It's normal. But somehow a meme has taken hold and run wild that a healthy penis has a foreskin that automatically retracts upon tumescence. This simple idea has caused untold anguish among adolescents and young adults who fret endlessly on the web that they're freaks or their penis is defective. We do a big disservice to our young males when we imply that it should be "this way" or "that way". Moreover, it perpetuates the idea that's common in circumcised societies that it's better for the glans to be visible. There is great variation and in fact the majority don't function as the oft-repeated line suggests. Now, almost all of us can slip it back with just a momentary gesture; only a small percentage are too snug to do that. But it just doesn't go back on its own, nor is it "supposed to". If it does, great, if it doesn't, great. It's really important that parents let their sons know this sometime before they can drive. (Not that this is related to operating an automobile; just an age suggestion. smile.gif )

I think the myth comes from pro-intact folks trying to reassure skittish Americans that the intact penis is not so different after all and from a handful of books with incorrect information. But it could backfire, in that people conclude that if the intact penis is going to look like a circumcised one anyway when rearin' to go, why not just cut off the foreskin?

If anyone wants more specifics on the mechanics, they can PM me as always.

You know, I got that idea from many of our pro-intact links and the photos they provide. Nine times out of ten, they show an intact fellow, erect with his mushroom head plainly visible. Being an American woman, I have NO experience with an intact man/men. Though our son is intact and at 16, he is happy we left him so.
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