Turtleneck or no turtleneck?

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. We’re talking about circumcision this week. And we fully expect you to bring it.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the next installment in our new parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (total parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a couple months). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

We are SURE to stir the pot with this next topic…

Today’s question: To circumcise or not to circumcise?

The Salgados

Turtleneck or no turtleneck? For some couples, this is a huge discussion and others not even a blip on the radar. Culturally, it is very uncommon for Latino males (especially those not born in this country) to be circumcised. Is it just a white thing? We did some research and quickly decided either way; this surgery was definitely not for our boys.

Needless to say, this invited some undesirable opinions from those close to us. My older sister (who was childless at the time), in the height of her sex-in-the-city days, was mildly horrified. I think she was convinced we were dooming our beautiful son to a life of sexual embarrassment. As a woman, I really didn’t get what the big deal was. Jorge just continued to shout from the next room, “but the sex is better!” The funniest part was five years later when she had her first son and the little guy remained intact. Cosmetic just seemed like a silly and weak reason to us.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse circumcision as a way to prevent any medical conditions like infections, potential risks of diseases, etc. It also does not find sufficient evidence to recommend or argue against it. The AAP is pulling a Switzerland. While this wasn’t our only reason for choosing not to circumcise, from a medical standpoint it seemed unnecessary.

At seven weeks old, our infant got a urinary tract infection. A simple round of antibiotics solved the problem but the hospital ordeal was intense and scary. We were new parents and everywhere we turned someone implied this might not have happened had we circumcised our son. They may have been right, the statistics support it. I have to admit, I was questioning our decision in the moment. In the end, he never had another infection and was fine.

We have stood on both sides of the argument and have dealt with a potential complication due to our decision, yet we both still feel pretty secure in our choice. It wasn’t just a physical/medical one for us, it was cultural and emotional. We didn’t hesitate when our second son was born, it’s turtlenecks for this family.

The Catrows

When we found out we were having a baby, Ross was adamant about two things: 1) we were not finding out the sex of the baby and 2) if it was a boy, we were not getting him circumcised.

Well, we had a boy. Knowing that, now you also know specifics about his genitalia. That’s weird. Sorry, kid.

Anyway, I was surprisingly not gung-ho about either of these points, particularly when it came to the whole “To cut or not to cut” question. I figured as a dude Ross was much more acquainted with the specifics of this area. So I deferred to him.

From our conversations, it came down to these points…

  1. We subscribe to no religious conventions that require us to circumcise our son.
  2. Our pediatrician said there was no reason to do it and no reason not to do it. How’s that for non-committal?
  3. The whole “embarrassment in the locker room” is a complete joke because no one showers after gym anymore anyway. And if they do, no one’s going to admit they were looking at anything anway.
  4. Word on the street is that, um, certain things are, ahem, more enjoyable should things be left intact. (OH GOD, it almost killed me to write that as it required the knowledge that one day my CHILD will be involved in such things.)
  5. Considering numbers 1 through 4, why put the kid through it?

Yes, we understand that he wouldn’t remember the pain and we know that most little boys have no trouble with it – just pop a pacifier in their mouths as you make the cut and they’re typically ok.

We also know that we will eventually have to “teach him to take care of it” at some point, although our pediatrician has assured us (like with most things pertaining to children) if you keep it simple and make it a non-issue, the kid won’t think twice about it.

For us, we just didn’t see the point. We figured, it’s his equipment. If he wants to make modifications later on in life, that’s his call. While he’s on our watch, all of his parts will remain intact until he decides otherwise.

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Patience Salgado

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