I am a convert to Judaism. I am a very crunchy AP mom. Before my conversion I had four children, one son. A born at home, breastfed for over three years, shared my bed for 6, cloth diapered, not vaxed, only organically fed son who was most certainly not circ-ed.
I converted when he was 7 and I was divorced the same year. I later remarried, a Jewish man. We have one son, born at home, still nursing, still in our bed, cloth diapered, not vaxed, only organically fed who was most certainly circ-ed, also at home by our Rabbi, who is also a mohel.
Every Jewish mother I know thinks about the bris, if in no other way than a mother thinks about doing anything to a child that might cause him or her pain. One of my children had eye surgery as an infant, the only way to save the sight in one eye. Even though I knew it was necessary, I still was unsettled, distressed by causing her pain.
That said, I certainly had to think about the ritual of brit milah. I am most certainly anti-circ, and had already put my money (or my son's penis in this case) where my mouth was.
In the end, I could find no credible Jewish way to avoid the bris, and so it was done. The ceremony was wonderful. My children were all in attendence, and the Rabbi explained the entire procedure. It was quick, the baby cried only briefly when undressed and being held tightly, nursed immediately and didn't cry again.
I do believe that children have the right to choose their own religion. I have chosen mine. I also think that if religion is important to you, you have no choice but to fulfill the obligations of your belief and raise your children *as if* they will follow in your footsteps.
In the same way I talk to my girls about breastfeeding instead of formula, homebirth versus hospital birth, homeschooling versus public school, cloth diapers versus disposables. I feel passionately about those issues, and hope that my children will take on those values. While I was waiting for them to grow, though, I didn't send them to school "just in case" they preferred it, or neglect to tell them the downside of hospital births "just in case" they weren't comfortable with homebirths.
My own children are older now. One is a parent herself who did give birth in a hospital, despite being present for her siblings' homebirths. She had a horrible experience, and has decided to have no more children. One of my daughters is a senior in high school and feels strongly that I did her a disservice by not putting her in preschool and then public school. She attended public school in the 7th grade, at her request, and has been there ever since. She tells me on a regular basis that she feels my three year old should be in preschool.
Should I have not followed my own beliefs in those matters because my children might grow up to have differing beliefs of their own? How can a person live a life like that? I have been a mother for 27 of my 46 years, and my youngest is only three. When would I live a life based on my beliefs and values if I had to have no values and beliefs while I had young children?
I admit, I don't know anyone personally who has suffered from being circ-ed. My ex was, though he agreed to leave our son intact. My father and brother are. I certainly got more grief for leaving my oldest intact than I ever did for having the bris for my youngest. The only adult I know that had an issue was a friend who was voluntarily circ-ed a few years ago at the age of 50 because he hoped it would improve his love life. He was very happy with his surgery, though it seemed extreme to me.
However, even if I knew someone who had difficulties, I still would have followed my religious obligation. I know people who have suffered from every kind of decision their parents made. I have one friend whose first child died of complications from the DPT, and one whose daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis soon after having the MMR. I also have a cousin whose daughter was not vaxed and is deaf as a complication of measles. Will they blame their mothers? Should they? Which mother was "wrong"?
I had a bris for my son because all my research did not convince me that I could religiously avoid doing so. Obviously some people *are* convinced that they can religiously do so. People interpret religion and research differently, and we live in a place where people are free to act accordingly. However, I don't buy the argument that parents should never do anything for a child that he might change his mind about later. As I see it, it's my obligation to raise my child the way I think is best, and with the values and beliefs that are important to me. To do less would be to have a less than authentic relationship with the most important people in my life.
If my children do grow up to believe differently, or have different values, then it is my obligation to be supportive, to love and value them for who they truly are.
To me, those things are not mutually exclusive. Will I be sad if my son regrets his circ, or takes on a different religion? Sad would not touch the way I would feel. But I would not regret sharing with him until then the values and beliefs that are so important to the person I am. I would be unable to live the kind of lie it would take to act as if I didn't have those beliefs and values all the while my children were young, and never include them for fear they might choose differently when they were older.