May 04, 2011
I am an American and am married to an Englishman. We are about to have our first baby and my mother insists we circumcise our little boy when he arrives mid-May. She says he will be unfit to attend American schools if we leave him au naturel. Do you think my mother is right? Must we absolutely circumcise our son? My husband is uncircumcised and is not crazy about the idea, but at the same time we don’t want our child to be bullied on account of being different!
—Circumcision Decision in Boston
Dear Circumcision Decision in Boston,
What does one need to consider when pondering circumcision? The hygiene argument in favor of circumcision is no longer an issue; the doctors have decided it is just as clean either way you go. The religious aspect, that maybe your boy will look Jewish is of total irrelevance if you stay in the United States because 70% of American males are circumcised. Then there is the sexual-pleasure argument, which was probably invented by men on both sides of the issue to make themselves feel superior. It probably holds no water as a real scientific theory because no man, circumcised or not, is likely to tell you he has bad sex. That leaves you only with a cosmetic decision. If he is going to school in America then he may be the only hooded winkie in his class, but you need to ask your husband (not your mother) how important all this is to schoolboys.
The most important thing and the only way to make a meaningful decision is to follow the rule of “like father, like son.” It is important for family to look like family. You all expect your son to have the same chin, build, and nose as his father. So why would you ever exempt the penis? Right or wrong, make him the same as daddy!
I married a Muslim six years ago and we are planning on taking a trip to see his extended family in Casablanca and show the children where daddy is from. The problem is, a good friend of mine recently told me that my husband could arrange it so the children were not allowed to leave the country without his permission and essentially trap us in Casablanca! Is this true? Do you think we should not go? I love my husband and trust him fully, but I am also a bit of a doomsday thinker. What would you do?
—Stay or Go in Montreal
Dear Stay or Go in Montreal,
If you trusted your husband fully, you wouldn’t be asking this question. First I suggest you do some research. Unless your friend is a Muslim herself or an expert in international family law, you need to ask someone who would actually know the answer. Start by calling the Moroccan Embassy, and even if they say your children cannot be trapped in Casablanca if your husband decides to go psycho, get a second opinion. My information on the matter is limited to a great movie with Sally Field that I saw over fifteen years ago in which she and her daughter were trapped in Iran and she had to try to smuggle her out of the country! You could always ask your husband, but if he actually was thinking of moving the family to Casablanca without your consent, do you really think he would tell you the truth? That is about as naive as the immigration authority insisting non-American citizens fill out the green landing card and honestly answer questions such as, “Have you ever know a terrorist? Are you a terrorist? Do you have terrorist intentions?”
You should not feel badly about taking all the necessary precautions before booking your flight. Would you go into brown bear territory without bringing bear spray or reading up on the best ways to survive a bear encounter? If it turns out that he can keep the children there without your consent, don’t go! Wait until the children are no longer minors before you plan any family vacations to discover daddy’s roots. Don’t tell your spouse about your real motivation behind not wanting to go to Casablanca; either lie or think of ways to earn his forgiveness. In this situation it is definitely better to be safe rather than sorry!
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