Saturday, October 25, 2003
This blog is moving here. The new site will be dusty with construction for a while. :)
Friday, October 24, 2003
I’ve been participating in a thread regarding circumcision. I typically don’t participate in them; it would be hypocritical for me to do so. I believe one way (against routine infant circumcision) but did another.
5 years ago, I was researching this topic. Yes, I realize have an 8 year old son, but I didn’t know circumcision was a choice, an issue or something that required research. It was a given that we would circumcise him. I began researching because I was pregnant.
I wasn’t online during this time, so my research was in articles, books and in person. My husband’s 17 year old son was living with us.
It wasn’t a pretty, smooth or happy time in our home. I felt increasingly uncomfortable with circumcising our child. DH remained adamantly for it. He came from a place that was so deep, so heartfelt that it had an element and dimension I’ve not seen before or since.
This, from a man who supported and trusted me in terms of co sleeping, “extended” nursing, homebirth, vaccine choice and absolutely no sleep training. He even refrained from (too many) comments regarding my dietary changes. ;)
After many discussions, tears, and fights, I submitted that if we had a boy, we’d circumcise him. I then researched the best way to do that, and that’s what we did. My youngest son was circumcised by a mohel who is also a medical doctor, on the 8th day.
From a spiritual standpoint, I had to pray that I would not hate my husband, that I would not resent him and that I would not break down in tears every time I changed a diaper. I prayed for peace for both Mike and I and I prayed for safety for my son.
I soon got online at alternative communities. I saw many threads about circumcision that completely tore at my heart. I saw suggestions that moms who “gave in” were horrible mothers, fathers who believed in circumcision were wusses and shallow. I saw moms claim they would leave marriage over the issue and/or not have another child due to the issue.
What I have not seen, however, is an honest look at “the other side”. I do not believe that RIC is necessary, medically or otherwise. I think the overwhelming majority of stories where boys had to be circed at a later age are due to the fact that we live in a culture that still uses RIC. When a culture circs, circ becomes an easy option. When a culture circs, care of an intact penis (which is basically: do nothing) is not known.
I’ve read how men/fathers/husbands think with their penises, are selfish, and are immature. But, I’ve not seen an honest appraisal and mention of the fact that we live in a culture that *does* RIC.
My DH is going on 53 (sh! He’s convinced Larsen he stays 49). My DH grew up in a culture of RIC. He knows, in a deep way, the emotional experience of being a boy/man in our culture. He knows it in a way that I never will, never can. The truth is that penises matter among boys/men. How they look, their size, their shape. And, the truth is that it’s not “just” cosmetic. Experiences around such issues shape our boys/men.
When I was researching this issue, I had a book in the van about “40 Reasons to Not Circumcise Your Son”. My stepson took the van during this time and one of his (average, normal) 17 year old male friends found the book. Apparently the boys literally *tortured* my stepson emotionally all night long and for some time afterward. My step son is circed; it was the fact that his step mom had a book about it and was considering leaving her unborn son intact. This was in 1998. It hardly helped my assertion that the culture around intact penises was changing.
I wish we didn’t live in a culture that “needs” books like 40 Reasons to Not Circumcise. But, we do. And until the time that we don’t, I suggest we stop emasculating our men, husbands and fathers of our children.
If/when they react vehemently or even mildly to the suggestion that we leave our sons intact, let’s not dismiss them. Let’s not discount them. Let’s not condescend to them. Let’s not assume they are wrong.
Instead, let’s assume both sides are right. RIC is unnecessary, painful and cruel. Circumcision in a culture where RIC has been practiced for generations is understandably something families consider.
I’ve gotten plenty of incredulous “didn’t your DH want what is best for your son” questions over the years. The answer is: Yes. Yes, he did. We both did and still do. And, we were both “right” although we were on polar opposites regarding the issue. My DH wanted to circumcise our son *because* he wanted what was best – and my DH had an understanding of the issue that I never will. I had an objectivity he will never have but I’ve stopped assuming my objectivity was better than his coming from his men’s heart.
Does this mean that we should bow to cultural customs in our decisions? No. But, it does mean that we should include them as part of our decision making process. And it certainly means that we do not have to emotionally castrate our men who believe circumcision is best.
Recently, I read a thread about a 2 year old throwing a fit in a public place. The description of the fit seemed like a manipulative fit rather than an overwhelmed meltdown. Although I’d remove my child regardless of the origin. I read post after posts of (AP) moms who basically felt that other people in public places would have to “put up with” the “normal and age appropriate” behavior of their 2 year old.
My kids are past the AP tool years. I've been an active member of the online and IRL AP/alternative/natural parenting community for 8 years. I've seen and talked to hundreds of AP families.
During those years, I’ve seen AP either blamed or credited for the personality of the child. Some AP advocates are convinced AP creates kind, secure, happy babies and children. Critics claim it creates needy, self centered, out of control children. In reality, AP doesn't create any particular kind of child. It can soften the edges of some children, but in general, it neither creates nor prevents a brat.
I have to be honest and say that I have seen a significant percentage of permissiveness in the AP community. I think what happens is that after breastfeeding, co sleeping and slings are no longer sufficient to respond to the needs of a baby, we need an approach and a variety of discipline tools. Some parents get those tools, some do not. Some reject the need for discipline outright.
AP doesn't come with a discipline approach. Although I feel positive discipline flows naturally from an AP mindset, AP families don’t have a cohesive philosophy or paradigm for real discipline issues. I have seen neglect, abuse and everything in between in AP families.
I think we need to be careful to not be passive when our children need discipline. Age appropriate (a 2 year old throwing a fit) doesn't mean appropriate. ;) They need limits, rules and action. And while “the public” does need to be accommodating to the fact that children *are* children, parents also need to be responsive to the fact that “the public” should not have to listen to a screaming 2 year old.
Keeping in mind that I don't advocate punishment *at all*, I find that my standards of behavior for my children are very high.