Considerations for parents of a circumcised son or sons when they're expecting another boy

Let’s set the scene. You have one or more sons who were circumcised before you questioned the procedure. Maybe you regret putting them through that pain and/or have started to feel badly about doing it at all. You’re jumping in feet first to learn more and arm yourself with information.

Now you’re pregnant with another boy. Yay! Another boy! Suddenly, a question creeps into your inner dialog from the recesses of your mind: Won’t he feel left out? Maybe I should circumcise this boy too since his brothers are done. But what about all I’ve learned? It’s not necessary . . .

You aren’t alone. Many questioning and regret moms have had this inner dialog and have asked other parents what their opinions are. We worry about our youngest sons feeling left out or different. We are parents — it’s our job to worry. We’re here to assure you that leaving your next baby intact is absolutely the right thing to do, regardless of the circumcision status of his brother(s).

Won’t my son feel left out if he’s the only one who isn’t circumcised?

No. Once he is old enough to ask questions, he is old enough to learn the importance of being intact and why you chose differently this time. As he grows, take the time to talk with him about why having his whole body is a blessing and not a burden.

What if he or his brothers ask questions?

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If any of your sons ask questions, the best thing to do is answer them honestly in an age-appropriate manner. Some parents start with, “All bodies are different so all penises look different.” If your child continues asking more, you can elaborate. Let them know that you learned more about circumcision and decided that it wasn’t the right thing to do anymore. The overall theme of your conversation should be, “We did what we thought was best at the time and now we know differently so we made a different choice for you/your brother. Everyone is special and beautiful.”

What do I tell our family/friends/child care providers?

Honestly, there isn’t any reason to discuss the difference unless they are changing diapers for your newest son or they are supportive and asking questions. Otherwise, you can insist your son’s genitals are not up for discussion.

Should I apologize to my sons who were circumcised? If so, how?

Yes, but it is important to do so tactfully. It can be very stressful for a child to find out that a part of his penis was removed when he was a baby. When the questions come up, get down on your child’s level and tell them the age-appropriate truth. He may be upset, and rightfully so, but it’s important for him to know that you learned more, so you left his brother intact. Brothers don’t need matching scars. Having an open dialog with your circumcised son also allows him to feel comfortable approaching you if he has any issues with pain, adhesions, or other complications in the future.

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Many parents report that their older sons are grateful that their younger brothers didn’t have to experience the pain of circumcision. For older boys, make sure to have information on foreskin restoration available in case it’s something they are interested in. If the boys are younger, make a mental note to discuss it at a later time.

My circumcised older son is happy and healthy, and recovery wasn’t that bad. Maybe I should choose circumcision again, to avoid the awkward conversation with me and potential animosity between them.

For a parent, facing the feelings that often arise when choosing differently for a younger son can be painful. That’s one problematic component of circumcision: it can create emotional difficulties for parents as well as children. We encourage you to explore these feelings with a trusted mental health care provider and/or in our YWB Facebook community group — there are many, many parents within the group who were once in your shoes, and they can help you feel secure in your decision to leave your younger son intact. It is a decision you will never regret.

Last updated 7.1.19.