What do you do if a family member has decided they will circumcise their new baby boy and nothing you say can convince them otherwise? If you're really hard-core, you create a time capsule.
Gather two (or three) large envelopes and fill them with the best information you have on the harms of circumcision: The AAP, AMA, and Canadian Paediatric Society statements, Men's Health, the Sep/Oct '05 Mothering Magazine article, and more. If you've been active in the genital-integrity movement, write down some anecdotal information about things you've done yourself on behalf of children and whether you've mentioned these things to the parents. Put identical sets of information in both envelopes, seal the envelopes, and write the date on the outside, along with the name of the child, if known. When visiting the soon-to-be parents in their home (don't wait till they're in the hospital!), hand them the envelope or put in on the table in front of them and calmly say "I understand that you're choosing circumcision because you feel it's in the best interest of the child. Whether you read it or not, I'm going to give a copy of this information to your son on or after his 15th birthday. If you're right, he will have you to thank."
Why this can be effective:
- There's a very good chance you'll be able to contact the child since you are part of the family.
- While the parent may rightly consider this to be meddling, at least some of their frustration will be directed towards the information itself - and away from you.
- While I chose the 15th birthday in my example above, you should chose whatever age you think the son will already be a handful for the parents, with or without a circumcision. You could even chose the age when the parent was the most trouble to his or her own parents.
- At this point, the parent will be dealing with the unknown. They will have no idea how circumcision will be regarded by the public and the child in fifteen years' time. They have no idea whether their child will be temperamental or forgiving. People fear the unknown.
- If they try to prep the child for your visit hoping for a more favorable outcome, they may inadvertently tip him off, doing some of your work for you.
Note: You may wish to fill three envelopes with identical information. If the child has been been prepped by the parents or is in an emotional state, he may discard the information. You may wish to retain one final copy in case he seeks it later.
Take the Whole Baby Home