Would appreciate your feedback...(final update #36) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 01:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Background: I'm 21 weeks pregnant and we found out we're having a son. WWIII hit the night before the u/s to find out we were having a boy re: circ. Anyway, we decided to not discuss it until we could both cool off - it's been about two weeks now. So, I wrote this letter (and have printed off copies of certain things - you'll figure out which ones if you read this) to get the ball rolling.

I'm looking for feedback or things to add to the letter to make my point. If some things don't make much sense please let me know so I can edit. You *do* need to know that threats, threatening language, bullying language, etc won't work with my husband (not that I would use them anyway) so I'm trying to keep it factual - with the exception of the Mama Bear point.

Also, one last point, I've actually had women on MDC tell me to leave my husband for considering to inflict "abuse" on them regarding RIC. It won't happen. And I'm not interested in hearing it again. I'm looking for guidance, pleaseandthankyou!

Thanks.

***

Paul,

Since this circumcision issue is such an “elephant in the middle of the room” for us I thought it might be easier for me to explain my reasoning on paper and then you can read it without us going to our defensive sides. I really, really don’t want this to cloud over the remaining 18 weeks of my pregnancy. After all, it’s been an amazing feeling of carrying our son and I want the positive energy to continue.

Here are my main reasons for keeping our son intact:

Autonomy – Much like we didn’t alter Corbin’s appearance following her birth, I don’t find it fair to do to any other children we might have. I truly believe that infants are born perfect. Yes, they might have crinkled noses or flat feet or any other list of body parts that don’t socially appear “beautiful”, but that is what makes that child that child. I simply don’t believe we have a right to alter a child’s body without their permission (barring medical need, of course). My body is mine. Your body is yours. Corbin’s body is hers. Our son’s body is his to decide alterations when he’s of a legal age to do so.

The Purpose of the Foreskin – Please look at the article from CIRP called “Foreskin Sexual Function/Circumcision Sexual Dysfunction” to see why the foreskin is necessary. I’ve heard quips about it being similar to the appendix, but it’s not. It’s very much a needed part of the sexual anatomy. I know it’s strange to think about, as parents, but this child will be under our care for only a very brief time of his entire life. He will grow up to be a man and a sexual being. It’s important that he is equipped to be a good sexual partner.

Easy to Clean – Please look at the article “Newborns: Care of the Uncircumcised Penis” to see that caring for his intact penis during diaper changes and/or baths requires no extra care. In fact, washing his genitals with water daily should do the trick because his foreskin protects his glans from urine and feces. I do know that you felt strongly about adult smegma and I do want to validate that point. The counterpoint is that the two of us, as adults, don’t always smell like roses, either, but it’s nothing that a quick shower can’t fix. Adult, intact penises also just need a daily cleaning.

Intact Penises are Normal – The World Health Organization estimates that 70% of the male population is intact. It’s very normal. Now, I know you and I know that you couldn’t care less about the rest of the world’s penises so we can bring this back to the United States. The newest article describing circumcision rates in this country is from 1/21/2008 (see “U.S. Circumcision Rates Vary By Region”) to show that, “Nationwide, about 56 percent of newborn boys - - 1.2 million infants - - were circumcised.” I was there when you asked Dr. Mimlitz and he responded with “99% of the boys I deliver are circumcised.” That might be true for him, but that’s not the norm. Just going by the article, barely over half of boys are circumcised these days. You brought up our son being teased in school and in sports for “looking different” from his peers, but he won’t be alone. Plus, this article is from nearly two years ago and it’s very possible that the rates of intact boys will continue to rise making our son’s intact penis the majority.

Medical Institutions – Not one medical institution recommends routine infant circumcision. I can provide the link to see that worldwide it is not recommended, but, again, let’s just stick with American medical organizations:
USA: (AAFP) "The current (2002) statement also emphasizes lack of therapeutic benefit and likens neonatal circumcision to a "cosmetic" procedure and expresses ethical concerns about non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision"
(AMA) "The statement calls for the re-training of American physicians and improved information to parents in hopes of reducing the unacceptably high rate of non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision."
(AAP) "the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child."

Mama Bear – Just like any animal, I have the instinct to protect. I did/do so with Corbin in the chemicals that go into her body (vaccinations, foods, etc), how she is safely tucked into a top of the line car seat, the fibers that touch her body in her clothing, etc. It can’t be disproven that I would do anything to protect her. The same is true for our son. I watch what I’m doing during pregnancy as to not harm him or cause any unnecessary fetal stress. Therefore, when the idea of circumcision comes up my natural instinct to push back because I do not like the idea of him being tied down, screaming, having his foreskin that is fused to his glans ripped back* and cut off. All the while this is done in a room with people he doesn’t know and don’t care about him. Just sitting here typing this I’m tearing up thinking about it…about the pain that would be inflicted upon his tiny little body. It’s truly impossible for me to think about looking at his amazing body right after his birth – remember counting Corbin’s fingers and toes, marveling at her adorable nose, having our breath taken away at her perfection? – and then saying “yeah, that part of his body is ugly and needs to be removed…and we’re not leaving until it’s done!” Circumcision is a cosmetic procedure that causes pain to infants – many of whom go into shock when it happens. It can’t be undone. Once this decision is made it’s there. Forever.
* Forcibly retracting a foreskin is the same as ripping the nail away from the nail bed.

There are some two things that I would like you to see before we discuss this again.
1.One is Penn and Teller’s Bullshit episode on circumcision. It’s free on youtube and I can direct you to it.
2.Another is a website that is fairly graphic, but explains and shows the difference between sex with an intact man and with a circumcised man. It's sort of a Cinemax-y site so I wouldn't visit at work. Sex As Nature Intended It

Finally, there’s one other point that I want to add and I want to say this as gently as possible. I love you. I love your body and I love every aspect of it, including your penis. This is my piece and my thoughts of genital integrity, but it’s not to hurt you or how I feel about your sexual organs.

Angela

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#2 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 01:38 AM
 
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Looks great mama Sticking with facts is always the best way to go and reassuring him that you love him and the way he looks is also important. I hope that you are able to get him to come around without to much trouble. If he has questions you dont have the answers for then that is what we are here for.

I would not tell someone to leave their dh over this but I would tell you and them to put their foot down and not let it happen. Grown men can get over having an intact son given time and if they cant then that is their problem to live with.

 
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#3 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 01:51 AM
 
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Beautiful letter. Rational but heartfelt. I don't see how he could not get it - though he may have to work through some feelings over time to get there.

The one thing that stuck out - might want to revise you're wording in the Sexual FUnction Section. "He will grow up to be a man and a sexual being. It’s important that he is equipped to be a good sexual partner." The last sentence may be taken by DH as saying that he is not a "good sexual partner." I'm too tired to think of an alternative right now. But you get the idea.

Good luck! Gillian
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#4 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 03:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The one thing that stuck out - might want to revise you're wording in the Sexual FUnction Section. "He will grow up to be a man and a sexual being. It’s important that he is equipped to be a good sexual partner." The last sentence may be taken by DH as saying that he is not a "good sexual partner." I'm too tired to think of an alternative right now. But you get the idea.
Yeah, I was stuck on how to word that part...and the part about his penis being fine with me. Ideas welcome.

Angela
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#5 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 05:00 AM
 
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Honestly, I think it's too much info, without really addressing the problem.

If I sent that to most circumcised men I know, they wouldn't bother to actually read more than half of it. The parts they did read would tend to make them somewhat defensive. This article explains how many men feel http://www.udonet.com/circumcision/v...ty_of_men.html

I would not send him a letter. I would ask him "why he wants his son circ'd?" Then I would specifically address his fears and feelings, in a calm caring and loving manner.

No to people are exactly alike, and no one approach is right for everyone, so you may have found the right approach for your DH, with the letter. However, most people are more open to new information, when they feel they are being heard.

If you already suspect what your DH will say when you ask for his opinion, we can help you with how to approach it.

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#6 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 05:22 AM
 
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How about making him defend - in writing - why it is necessary to have done? He is the one wanting to make an alteration - he better make a good case!

Whether he reads it or not - well if he wants a say he should be comitted to hear you out - be it in writing or in a discussion.

The part about your son being a sexual being - I agree that the part about the good sexual partner could be taken the wrong way.
How about making a case of the possible complications from a circ - including having to have it redone, adhesions, meatal stenosis, too tight, possible sexual problems (indicating that it is a POSSIBLE complication from circ - that would raise the problem of possibly affecting his sexuality without directly touching the subject of your DHs sexuality as he could well just be the lucky one with no complications, but that it wont necessarily be like that for your son.

Good luck.

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#7 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 06:50 AM
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What are his reasons for wanting this child circ'd? His specific reasons and concerns need to be addressed.
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#8 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 07:25 AM
 
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I think the letter is really great. And I like the idea of getting around the sexuality aspect by listing possible complications of circ and their repercussions on a normal sex life later on.

And before giving him the letter, why not ask him to write *you* one as well, and you exchange them? That way he gets to feel heard as well.

I hope you can come to a peaceful resolution. My DH wanted our son circed but I was adamant that it not happen. Plus, we are in Europe-- if we had truly wanted to circ it would have been a huge deal to find someone to it. I'm sorry to hear that your doctor circ's 99% of the males he delivers. It would be nice to have someone medical in your corner.

s to you.
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#9 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 10:22 AM
 
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sending you a PM....

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#10 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 10:23 AM
 
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I do think the letter format is a fine way to communicate with partners about hot topics. My husband has on occasion written me long emails explaining how he feels when we've gotten into arguments on some of our hot-button topics. It gives you a way to get your thoughts out on paper, and gives the other person time to consider an answer, without getting whipped into a fight in which ideas are poorly articulated, responses are poorly thought out, and emotions get the best of you.

While the general public circumcised man might not want to read a long letter about why circumcision is a bad thing, I would think any loving husband would be willing to read the well-expressed and -intended thoughts of his wife. I really think a letter like this - and giving him the space to absorb it - could shift his thought processes.

I like the idea of inviting him to write more about his reasons, and how he feels. Especially having read yours, he may already see things differently, and then having to write them out is a good exercise in self-awareness.

I wouldn't feel like a letter like this has to have every argument against circ in it. Just the ones that seem the most important to you - as you've already done.

Again, beautiful job!

Gillian
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#11 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your feedback, everyone. It's really helpful to reorganize my thoughts since this will be a conversation after the absorption period.

I hear what was said about writing a letter. I really did. At this point, this is a very hot topic in our house and I need to say these things 1. without bursting into tears, 2. without yelling in defensiveness and 3. opening the lines of communication so my husband can do the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noelle C. View Post
What are his reasons for wanting this child circ'd? His specific reasons and concerns need to be addressed.
A couple of reasons:
1. being different from peers and the teasing that will ensue (which I addressed)
2. smegma and the uncomfort of smelling (which I addressed)
3. being made inferior by sexual partners when he's the "only" circed penis they will see (I tried to address this one on the commonality of intact infants, but it's open for discussion)
4. a coworker of his that is intact (unhappily was teased by women and men alike) and circed his sons
and, finally, one that he hasn't specifically addressed, but I *know* it's in there:
5. I make 99% of parenting decisions by default and I think he wants some control. I know that won't be a popular answer in these parts, but IMO, it's valid for him

Re: sexuality and Paul's discomfort. I'm really having a hard time with this one and hear what you all are saying. I don't want to discredit his sexuality, but also don't want to down play that this has a larger role. I guess I see it like discussing taste when discussing the tongue, yk?

Sorry, don't know how to multiquote:
How about making him defend - in writing - why it is necessary to have done? He is the one wanting to make an alteration - he better make a good case!
I didn't write this to be a term paper so I don't want him to feel he has to do the same. This is my (hopeful) jumping off point of communication so we can discuss this as rational adults. God, marriage is hard enough without having completely opposing views on something!

How about making a case of the possible complications from a circ - including having to have it redone, adhesions, meatal stenosis, too tight, possible sexual problems (indicating that it is a POSSIBLE complication from circ - that would raise the problem of possibly affecting his sexuality without directly touching the subject of your DHs sexuality as he could well just be the lucky one with no complications, but that it wont necessarily be like that for your son.
Can you give me some links of complications and whatnot? We know two little boys that had to be recirced and Paul mentioned that being a concern to the OB (the one that mentioned his 99% circ rate).

Thanks again, ladies...for your comments and your PMs. I really appreciate your opinions.

Angela
Chatty Girl - 3/2006, Lovey Boy - 1/2010, Delicious Baby Girl - 1/2012
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#12 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 12:11 PM
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Great letter! Your son is so lucky to have such a wonderful caring strong mom!
If it's not two late, I'd change a couple of things. First, by writing "making him a good sexual partner (or something along this line) you might made your dh feel that he is not.

Second, I personally think that Circumcision Decision (this new 20 min long video) would be more beneficial than, the Sex as Nature Intended site. I highly recommend watching it. Here is direct link to the video http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...5256830319025#
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#13 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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I would leave the sexuality part and maybe even look for some stats on intact men being more willing to use protection (I haven't found those in a long time, but that was a big motivator for my ex to agree to leave our boys intact).

I also write letters to my husband on hot topic issues. It is a great way to say what I need to say, without sounding like the nagging, hormonal bitch.

I would also maybe see if he will watch some videos. That was enough for my DH. When he saw what really happened, it freaked him out so much, he totally agreed.

Now as for the deicison making, that was an issue for us and my DH did feel like I made all the decisions for our kids. I finally told him I WANTED his imput and would really consider anything he had to say, as long as it didn't involve harming our child or changing who they were born to be (intact and without vaccines). I did let him come up with the final name. I gave that one to him, although it was the name that I wanted. HA.
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#14 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 02:08 PM
 
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Can you give me some links of complications and whatnot? We know two little boys that had to be recirced and Paul mentioned that being a concern to the OB (the one that mentioned his 99% circ rate).
Here is a list of complications

When I was discussing this with my partner - I talked about how many issues he has with own penis, and why those issues are there. Because of that, he didn't want to circ. (He circed his first boy, who is 13. He didn't know anyone who wasn't and didn't know enough to even ask about it. And no, his exw didn't either. *sigh*) I made sure to let him know that I have no issues with his penis, as is evidenced with how much time I spend with it. But that the child should have the option to change parts of their body if they want to when they are older - and it shouldn't be forced on them. He agreed with me, and our boy is intact. I would have fought tooth and nail for it though, just glad I didn't have to do that.

Your partner may not have many issues with his own circ, so that argument might not work for you.

peace...
Margaret

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#15 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 02:34 PM
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Does your dh know that circ started in North America as a cure for masturbation? This fact was an eye opener for my dh.

A Short History of Circumcision in the Physicians' Own Words
http://www.noharmm.org/docswords.htm
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#16 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 02:48 PM
 
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You might want to discuss the function of smegma and show the comparison between female and male. Smegma= cervical mucus, I believe(could be wrong, if someone would deny or verify that would help)
found this article actually
http://www.foreskin.org/smegma.htm

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#17 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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Here is a site that talks about the history of circ. It's interesting, and might be helpful.

peace...
Margaret

Homeschooling Ama to boys (ages 10 and 6) and my SoldierGirl who is serving in the US Army, StepMom to three crazy teens. I'm married to the love of my life. 

 

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#18 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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You might want to discuss the function of smegma and show the comparison between female and male. Smegma= cervical mucus, I believe(could be wrong, if someone would deny or verify that would help)
found this article actually
http://www.foreskin.org/smegma.htm
Smegma is greek for "soap" and is, to my knowledge the combination of shed skin cells, oil, etc. Women produce it too, and we not only have plenty of nooks and crannies (inner and outer labia, clitoral hood), but an internal, receptive sex organ that is constantly discharging a variety of fluids...cervical mucous, arousal fluids, blood, etc.
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#19 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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Smegma is greek for "soap" and is, to my knowledge the combination of shed skin cells, oil, etc. Women produce it too, and we not only have plenty of nooks and crannies (inner and outer labia, clitoral hood), but an internal, receptive sex organ that is constantly discharging a variety of fluids...cervical mucous, arousal fluids, blood, etc.
See! : If he's not bothered by your smegma, maybe he should rethink the whole idea of smegma to begin with.

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#20 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 05:38 PM
 
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Writing letters is a great way to open talks without the yelling and tears and worrying about saying things you will regret later For some it isnt the way to go but for a lot of others it works really well.

I know many who have written emails and letters on this subject when talking was not working. Like in the OP's case.

 
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#21 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 06:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AfricanQueen99 View Post
Can you give me some links of complications and whatnot? We know two little boys that had to be recirced and Paul mentioned that being a concern to the OB (the one that mentioned his 99% circ rate).
http://www.fathermag.com/health/circ/risks/

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#22 of 49 Old 09-15-2009, 11:43 PM
 
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I think it was beautifully written and will be well received. While some people might not want to read a lengthy letter, I think a spouse will and that he'll know she put much thought into it.
Good job!

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#23 of 49 Old 09-16-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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I've said this before, but I hope other posters will bear with me one more time. I wouldn't and don't tolerate the argument about teasing. Ask yourself and him the question: "what sort of message about his worth do we want to teach our son?" Do you want to teach him that if people tease you then you have to go and change yourself to be more pleasing to those people? What happens when other people tease you about the change? Who do you believe? Why do "they" get to define what is worthwhile in him?

I was teased relentlessly as a child. Just to name a handful, I got teased for being "too tall", but my parents didn't work to stunt my growth. I got teased for being "too smart" (but they didn't lobotomize me) AND I got teased for being "stupid" (figure that one out). People WILL tease him about things. They will. I'm sorry, but it's just how it is. What tools are YOU TWO going to give him to deal with the mockery of others? Are you going to do him the disservice of saying "they're right, honey, that <insert offensive trait/body part> really is bad - let's change it"? Or are you going to empower him with the confidence to refuse to take other's criticism to heart and to enjoy the traits/talents/characteristics/skills he has been given without requiring the permission of others to do so?

I'm certain you and your husband both would answer those questions in the same loving way, but sometimes we all just need to take a step back and get a fresh perspective of the REAL issue with some of these arguments.

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." â E.B. White
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#24 of 49 Old 09-17-2009, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I understand what you're saying, Dancindoula, but I'm one to validate all feelings and thoughts so it still goes in the letter. It's a valid concern of my husbands.

FWIW, I altered it a bit to have a "Surgery on a Newborn" session to highlight some concerns that may arise from it and put the sexual issues under that. It's still being said, but, hopefully, won't be the biggest aspect.

My old man is just coming off a cold so I'm waiting until he feels well to hand everything over. I'm sure I'll be back for more assistance.

Thanks for your help, everyone.

Angela
Chatty Girl - 3/2006, Lovey Boy - 1/2010, Delicious Baby Girl - 1/2012
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#25 of 49 Old 09-17-2009, 03:48 PM
 
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Wow, really great letter!!!

My dp was ADAMENTLY for circ; I was against it. We went around and around. Had a girl the first time. Whew.

Luckily, before our second and third children (which are girls too - go figure) he actually SAW in real life a circ performed. We were at a hospital to see our friends' newborn boy. I was with my friend in her room when they took the baby away. She made her dp go with him - so my dp went with him for support. They stood in the hall outside the room. At one point, a nurse opened the door to go out and my dp and hers saw the circ being performed. My dp came back to the room, white as a ghost; I honestly thought he might be having a heart attack - he was shaking and sweating. He told me we had to leave. I hugged my friend and we left. Once we were out of earshot of their room, he told me what happened and said "we are NEVER doing that to any sons!"

So even the most adament pro-circ dads can come around. You are doing a great job of being reasonable, calm, addressing his concerns, etc.

I also really like the book 40 Reasons Not to Circumcise. It is a quick, easy read (paperback) that NOCIRC used to sell. Not sure if they still do.
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#26 of 49 Old 09-17-2009, 05:10 PM
 
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4. a coworker of his that is intact (unhappily was teased by women and men alike) and circed his sons
I haven't read past this, but has he asked his coworker why, if he doesn't like being intact, he circ'd his sons, instead of himself? I didn't always like having big boobs...but I wouldn't force a boob job on my daughter over that. I'd get one myself, if it were that big an issue.

This line of thinking drives me up a wall.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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#27 of 49 Old 09-17-2009, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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^^^ He *did* ask his co-worker (he didn't know this guy was intact before he was wandering around his office in a "my wife is nuts" way) why he circed his sons and not himself and said guy said to avoid the torment that he endured. Now that said guy is married and older (he's probably mid-40s) he no longer feels that pressure to be the same.

Angela
Chatty Girl - 3/2006, Lovey Boy - 1/2010, Delicious Baby Girl - 1/2012
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#28 of 49 Old 09-17-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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^^^ He *did* ask his co-worker (he didn't know this guy was intact before he was wandering around his office in a "my wife is nuts" way) why he circed his sons and not himself and said guy said to avoid the torment that he endured. Now that said guy is married and older (he's probably mid-40s) he no longer feels that pressure to be the same.
That is really too bad considering he probably set his son up for the same kind of torment, being different, since so many are no long circ. their sons.
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#29 of 49 Old 10-22-2009, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your feedback, everybody. I gave my husband the letter about a month ago and he finally had a chance to read it the other day (he's been traveling for work a lot and it's been stress city around here). He responded with "you are making some great points. Let me mull it over for a bit and we can talk soon" (meaning when all the traveling ends).

He even read up the "Stuff Your Mom Never Told You" transcript on circumcision this morning at work and told me about his concern with the HIV/STD link. I explained that it's not really valid, the numbers are off, etc and emailed him the Daily Nation link about circing not working in Kenya.

We're actually having real, non-confrontational conversations about this. It's great! Because the fighting bit wasn't working.

Anyway, thanks for helping me work out my thoughts for the letter.

Angela
Chatty Girl - 3/2006, Lovey Boy - 1/2010, Delicious Baby Girl - 1/2012
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#30 of 49 Old 10-22-2009, 08:34 PM
 
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Thanks for your feedback, everybody. I gave my husband the letter about a month ago and he finally had a chance to read it the other day (he's been traveling for work a lot and it's been stress city around here). He responded with "you are making some great points. Let me mull it over for a bit and we can talk soon" (meaning when all the traveling ends).

He even read up the "Stuff Your Mom Never Told You" transcript on circumcision this morning at work and told me about his concern with the HIV/STD link. I explained that it's not really valid, the numbers are off, etc and emailed him the Daily Nation link about circing not working in Kenya.

We're actually having real, non-confrontational conversations about this. It's great! Because the fighting bit wasn't working.

Anyway, thanks for helping me work out my thoughts for the letter.
You might also mention that the rates of HIV in the US are far far lower than in Africa and that circumcision would provide little practical benefit under those conditions. You might want to read this bbc article which gives a British perspective: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7960798.stm

And an Australian perspective: http://www.afao.org.au/library_docs/...rcumcision.pdf

"An Australian-born man is estimated to have a 0.02% (0.0002) risk of HIV acquisition if he does not inject drugs or have sex with men.11 This very low risk means that the population health benefit of an intervention like generalised circumcision programs would be negligible."
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