Friday, July 19, 2013

Attachment Parenting and Circumcision

My son, perfect as he was born.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the Attachment Parenting (AP) philosophy, clarifying that Attachment
Parenting is a general philosophy of gentle, respectful, responsive, positive, balanced parenting; not a strict list of musts and must nots. Almost immediately, comments on the post turned to the topic of circumcision, with several parents declaring that circumcision is incompatible with Attachment Parenting.

Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear:

I am opposed to routine infant circumcision (RIC).

I have come to this position after very thorough research on the risks and benefits of both circumcision and of leaving a penis intact, in its natural state.

I advocate for the rights of all humans to bodily autonomy, and I am opposed to the practice of permanently altering the genitals of another person as a cosmetic or non-medically-indicated procedure without that person's consent.

I am opposed to routine infant circumcision.
I practice attachment parenting.

These two statements are not automatically true of every intactivist and every AP parent. The decision to circumcise one's child does not exclude them from the "Attachment Parent" label. There are very loving, very attached parents who decided to circumcise their children. Some of them regret the decision after learning more. Some do not. There are parents who are absolutely not practicing attachment parenting who have intact children. Attachment Parenting International does not declare a stance on circumcision, but includes it under the "Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting" umbrella and encourages parents to thoroughly research the decision.

From Attachment Parenting International's Leader Guidelines:

Presenting other topics not directly related to Attachment Parenting (AP) should be avoided. When issues such as diapering options, homebirth, home schooling, circumcision, vaccinations, specific diets, etc. come up during a discussion, the leader should state that API takes no stance on these issues, but encourages parents to educate themselves to make informed decisions about them. Literature about various options may be made available after the meeting. Books on these topics may be included in the group’s library. Above all, parents need to feel accepted, and peripheral issues should not be allowed to distract from our focus on AP. [emphasis mine]

I am opposed to routine infant circumcision, not because it is an attachment parenting issue, but because it is a human rights issue. I encourage my fellow attachment parenting advocates who are also intactivists to avoid excluding parents of circumcised children from the AP philosophy. Doing so only further perpetuates the idea that AP is an exclusive club made up of strict guidelines that one is required to adhere to. It alienates parents who might otherwise be open to hearing the arguments against RIC and making different decisions for their future children. (Read how one woman chose to leave her second son intact despite intactivists HERE.)

Please, continue to fight the good fight, as I will, against RIC, but don't do it at the expense of Attachment Parenting. Focus instead on basic human rights. Focus instead on the risks of circumcision and on the benefits of the intact penis. Focus instead on the functions of the foreskin that are lost with circumcision. It is by education, and not by alienation, that we will continue to see infant circumcision rates in the US falling year after year.

For more information on circumcision:

Top 10 Reasons to Leave your son Intact
My Doctor Says my Son Needs to be Circumcised
Commentary on AAP's 2012 Circumcision Policy Statement
What is the Foreskin?
Collection of Research on Circumcision


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