Explaining circumcision to a 3-year-old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-10-2013, 04:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope I don't get in trouble for posting this here.

 

First of all, I want to say that I never intended to explain circumcision to my son at this age. Unfortunately, he accidentally saw a clip of one being performed (it was part of a longer video that I was watching, with headphones on, while I thought he was asleep/napping) and when he asked me what they were doing, I started crying (I was emotional from the video and upset when I realized that he had seen it--and heard the baby crying, despite my headphones), so I had to explain it somehow. I told him that they were cutting part of the baby's penis--and, yes it hurt--but they did it because they thought it would make him cleaner and healthier. He asked "Why do they think that?" and at first I said I didn't know but I could see that he wasn't taking that for an answer so I tried to find a way to explain it.

 

I wrapped my hand around his index finger and said, "Pretend your finger is the penis and my hand is the skin covering it. Some people think that this skin will trap and hold in the germs." (He still doesn't have a good understanding of "germs" but he knows that poop is dirty, so I decided to use that to illustrate the germ concept.) I took the index finger from my other hand and said, "Pretend this is poop. Some people think that if you don't cut off the skin, the poop will get trapped in like this." I wedged my finger in between his finger and my hand and said, "See? It's stuck. But if I take my hand off here, it's not stuck anymore. See?" He just stared at me and I said, "But those people have it wrong because this is how the skin really works." I wrapped my hand around his finger again and poked it with my other finger, but didn't let it get through. He laughed and said, "Can I try?" and I said, "Sure." So then he poked at it and I said, "See? This skin is not letting you in!" He managed to get his finger in eventually and I trapped it and said, "This is what they think will happen if they don't cut the skin off." Then I let go of his hand and I explained to him that I had not let anyone cut his penis, but it did happen to some baby boys.

 

Later in the evening, he came running into the room and said, "Mommy can we play the penis game? You be the penis and I'll be the poop." I explained to DH what had happened and he said, "Great. I can't wait for him to break this game out in mixed company." 

 

I tried to explain the situation again while simultaneously explaining that it wasn't a game. Fortunately, he hasn't asked to play it again... yet.


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#2 of 13 Old 04-10-2013, 05:08 PM
 
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I think you did great!  I've been reading Playful Parenting & it is about how to help your children w/ play to understand themselves, life, things, etc.  Granted, like your husband said, if he starts playing it out & about it may be difficult but I suspect if he gets enough of it w/ you, he won't be hanging on to it long.

 

My three children all know what circ is (they're 10, 7 & 3).  I've always tried to answer their questions in a way that they can understand. I'm impressed w/ the way you were able to come up w/ the hand around the finger idea on the spot!  bow.gif

 

Best wishes,

Sus


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#3 of 13 Old 04-10-2013, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Sus. How did you explain it to your 3-year-old? I would like to have been less flustered and emotional when I explained it, but he really did seem to enjoy "the penis game." It's just not a game that I want to catch on.

 

I know it is not the last conversation we will have on the subject so I hope I can continue to explain it in terms he can understand.


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#4 of 13 Old 04-11-2013, 11:20 AM
 
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I'm sorry...I don't recall the exact conversation.  I know it wasn't a surprise though, like it was for you.  I think I just said something along the lines of, "it's when they remove (probably not cut, but maybe I said that) off the part of your penis that moves."  (He's retractable & has been since about age 2.).  Short & simple.  I think he probably said something like he was glad it didn't happen to him & we moved on.  I probably also said something like some people think it needs to be done.

 

He has twin boy cousins who are 1.5 weeks older than him who are circ'd.  He sees them almost never & has never seen them naked but it's still somethign that comes up because they're the same age & I tried w/o success to get their mother to keep them whole.

 

Sus


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#5 of 13 Old 04-11-2013, 11:24 AM
 
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The only conversation we've had is when my son noticed that his dad was different, about age 3.  We explained that when daddy was a baby his parents had his foreskin cut off (he knew what a foreskin was).  We didn't explain their reasoning, we just said that his parents didn't know any better.  We told our son that foreskins are important and that we'll never let anyone cut off part of his penis.  Our son gave my husband a big hug and told him that he was sorry that part of his penis was cut off.  We were all in tears.


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#6 of 13 Old 04-11-2013, 11:31 AM
 
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The only conversation we've had is when my son noticed that his dad was different, about age 3.  We explained that when daddy was a baby his parents had his foreskin cut off (he knew what a foreskin was).  We didn't explain their reasoning, we just said that his parents didn't know any better.  We told our son that foreskins are important and that we'll never let anyone cut off part of his penis.  Our son gave my husband a big hug and told him that he was sorry that part of his penis was cut off.  We were all in tears.

bawling.gif And now so am I.

 

Sus


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#7 of 13 Old 04-11-2013, 11:45 AM
 
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Can we play the penis game? I think I would have peed my pants from laughing! Too cute and what great explanations!

You ladies need to write those stories down for later on!
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#8 of 13 Old 04-14-2013, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son has yet to notice a difference between himself and his father (he just recently noticed that I don't have a penis), but if he does, that will be another opportunity to discuss it from a less emotional position. I say "if" because if he is like me, he may go through childhood assuming that any differences are due to maturation. His peers are intact as well.

 

lovemylab, I didn't think I should write the story in his baby book, so that is why I shared it here. I am glad you appreciated it!


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#9 of 13 Old 04-14-2013, 01:08 PM
 
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My son has asked me many times why his penis looks different from his dads and his stepdads. He started noticing when he was three and I was very honest in my explanation. I told him that baby boys are born perfect just the way that they are, but his dads parents didn't feel that way and they had a doctor remove a piece of skin from the tip of their penis called the foreskin. I told him that some parents choose to do it and some don't. He asked me why I didn't and I told him again that his whole body was perfect just the way that it was, and I didn't want to change it. I also told him that his body belongs to him, and that when he is a grownup he can make whatever changes he wants but that it is his choice because it is his body. 

 

He is VERY appreciative that we protected him from circumcision and he was also happy that we left his brother intact. 


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#10 of 13 Old 04-17-2013, 05:43 PM
 
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We didn't explain their reasoning

 

I don't think anyone can. It should be mandatory to view a video of one AND view one in real life before signing the consent form.

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#11 of 13 Old 04-17-2013, 05:49 PM
 
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I don't think anyone can. It should be mandatory to view a video of one AND view one in real life before signing the consent form.

 

It's interesting you say this.  My FIL is adamantly pro-circ.  My MIL is not, but her husband didn't know this until he decided to lay into us for not circ our son.  The reason she's anti-circ now?  For her third child (also third son) the doctor made her hold the baby while he circ'd him.

 

My FIL asked her why she didn't tell him she was anti-circ.  She said, "We had a girl next and we were done, so it was kind of water under the bridge at that point.  If we had another son I wouldn't have let them been circumcised."  It was amazing to see that whole exchange.


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#12 of 13 Old 04-21-2013, 06:29 AM
 
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I don't think anyone can. It should be mandatory to view a video of one AND view one in real life before signing the consent form.

I am not sure why they don't do this. We ended up in the hospital with our third child and they wouldn't let us leave the hospital without watching a very one sided film about vaccines as well as one about shaken baby syndrome and some others. Why wouldn't they make parents see what they are agreeing to do to their baby before doing it? It is the strangest thing. 


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#13 of 13 Old 04-21-2013, 07:20 AM
 
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I don't think anyone can. It should be mandatory to view a video of one AND view one in real life before signing the consent form.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vermontgirl View Post
I am not sure why they don't do this. We ended up in the hospital with our third child and they wouldn't let us leave the hospital without watching a very one sided film about vaccines as well as one about shaken baby syndrome and some others. Why wouldn't they make parents see what they are agreeing to do to their baby before doing it? It is the strangest thing. 

While I understand *why* you guys think this is legitimate, I don't agree.  I don't believe hospitals/doctors/medical people should be providing a elective service for adults to be done to someone else who can't consent.  SO, having to watch it being done to someone else means they're already doing it to someone w/o their permission.  

 

I don't think they do what you two are suggesting because if they did, then fewer people would go through with it.  But you'd still have that hard nosed individual who says, "yeah, I held my baby while they were circ'd & they just went to sleep."  Um, no, it's called shock.  

 

Here's a blog post by Intact America about this issue: http://intactamerica.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/tell-americas-obs-his-body-his-rights/  

 

Sus


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