The pace of change in our world is rapid. I’m only 31 and I can see that the world I live in is quite different than the world my parents grew up in. It’s a world of choices everywhere we turn.
Guacamole or salsa? (Neither was a “thing” when I was growing up in the Midwest).
Android or iPhone?
Yoga or Insanity workout videos?
Regular Blu-ray vs. 4K?
It’s a lot to keep up with, and we joke about the “older” generations not keeping up with computers and other technology. I’m sure that I’m just a few short years away from my own kids explaining technology to me.
Child raising choices
Raising kids is another area where many things have changed, and usually it involves a slew of choices.
- Instead of 3 models of high chairs, there are hundreds.
- Rice cereal or chunky avocado for baby’s first food?
- How much screen time should kids be allowed, and on what kind of device and what apps?
Some of these choices are important and some…less so.
If you’re past the stage of raising children, I don’t blame you if you feel a little ‘out of the loop’ on the zillions of parenting gadgets and newfangled options. That’s OK. If you’re curious about the new styles of cloth diapers available or changes in carseat safety recommendations, by all means read up on it or politely ask your kids with children or young parents in your church.
But other than curiosity or safety issues while you care for the young’uns (how to clip a carseat, etc.), hopefully you can just relax, be glad you are past the stage of diapers and 2 a.m. wakeup calls, and enjoy the kiddos in your life.
One that matters
Grandparents, there’s probably no reason for you to research your favorite stroller or baby skin care tips. But I’d like you to take a moment to educate yourself on circumcision. Perhaps you or your spouse is circumcised, your children might be (it was probably not even presented to you as a choice when they were born), and maybe some of your grandkids already are too. You’re not going to have more kids, so why read up on this awkward topic? Isn’t it a health-related decision for parents to make? Didn’t it used to be in the “painful but necessary” category?
Many parents today are choosing to leave their sons intact (= not circumcise). The rate of circumcision is about 50/50 and dropping in the USA. It is less common in Canada (about 10%), and almost nonexistent in Europe, Australia, South America, etc.
Why are circumcision rates dropping? Some reasons include:
- “Insurance doesn’t cover it; it’s just cosmetic.”
- “Now we know that babies feel pain just like adults.”
- “Other countries don’t do this, and it doesn’t cause them any health issues.”
- “It’s not necessary, and it does harm. Besides, it doesn’t really make any sense to cut off a healthy body part that God designed, right?”
Knowing that circumcision isn’t necessary or even beneficial, but that it does cause pain and removes a functional healthy body part, you are able to:
1. Speak respectfully about boys with whole bodies.
Sadly, some families with intact sons face comments about their sons being “dirty,” “disgusting,” “funny-looking,” or worse. No, a normal body the way God designed it is not strange or yucky and no child (male, female, circumcised or intact) deserves to overhear comments degrading their bodies, even if they are too young to understand. Instead, you can be an advocate for these boys and make sure they’re shown the dignity they deserve.
2. Safely care for kids that are intact.
Diaper changes and bathing for a boy who is intact are easy; a catchy rule of thumb is “only clean what is seen,” which means that for babies and toddlers there is no need to retract the foreskin to clean underneath. Simply wipe from base to tip as you would wipe his fingers. The foreskin of small children is tightly adhered by design to keep out germs and dirt, so trying to pull it back before it is ready can cause pain and injury as well as introduce germs. If you are involved in childcare for grandkids, the church nursery, or anyone else, this is good info to know, and isn’t always common knowledge if you were born in a generation where circumcision was common.
If you’ve ever heard of a person who wasn’t circumcised and “got lots of infections” or “had to be circumcised later in life,” it is very likely they were experiencing those problems because of improper care, not because of the foreskin itself.
3. (This is the hardest one) Speak Up.
Yes, we all know that your kids might not like it when the grandparents butt in with criticism about parental decisions like discipline, bedtime, or whether or not to send little Aiden to Kindergarten this year or next.
But is circumcision a parenting decision?
I think it’s more of an issue of medical ethics. Parents can make medical decisions when an illness or injury is present or threatening, but we certainly don’t cut off other body parts just because we aren’t used to them or because they “might” cause problems in the future. And the foreskin rarely has problems if it’s properly cared for.
Would you speak up if someone you knew wanted to have their child tattooed or remove their child’s eyelid or one of their lips?
Imagine if the voices of the older and wiser ones in our families and churches were saying:
- “Well, when I had kids most people didn’t have the information to question the practice of circumcising. If I had the information that is available now, I would definitely say no.”
- “God designed the human body and said it was good. Infant circumcision is really just cutting the body for cultural reasons, not medical. It doesn’t belong in the church.”
- “We’ve got an obligation to treat our babies the way we would like to be treated. Just because they might not remember something doesn’t make it OK to do.”
- “A human being is not our property. Circumcision, except in those rare medical necessities, is basically stealing a good thing that God gave to that person.”
- “The circumcision commanded in the Old Testament isn’t even the same as what they do in hospitals now. And we ought to be glad that after the coming of Jesus we aren’t required to cut any part of our children!”
- “I hope you will keep your child intact. Once you learn about what circumcision is, it doesn’t match who you are in Christ.”
I’ve heard some of my pro-intact friends say we should “give up on” the older generation who are ‘stuck in their ways’ and focus on educating younger parents-to-be about the harms of circumcision. But I haven’t given up on any of my older friends and neighbors! I hope you are blessed by learning that our Lord truly did make our bodies fearfully and wonderfully.
Some practical ways you can help:
- Share our website on your Facebook page
- Hand out our info cards to expectant mothers in your church and community
- Share our flyer with your pastor or nursery director
- Talk about this issue with your children. They’ll listen.