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VICKIE IOVINE / Girlfriends' Guide to Family

Men Need to Reexamine Reasons for Circumcision

April 18, 1999|Vicki Iovine | Every Sunday, author and columnist Vicki Iovine will use her patented "Girlfriends' Guide" approach to chat about family, parenting and relationships

Dear Vicki: I'm due to deliver a baby boy in five or six weeks, and I'm not sure I want our baby circumcised. My husband says it's not even an issue because "a son is supposed to look like his father." But I think I read recently that even the American Academy of Pediatrics says circumcision is not essential. So what to do?

--TO SNIP OR NOT TO SNIP

Dear Snip or Not: The days when the nurses came to take my little boys away from my postnatal bed to take them to the "clip joint" are still dark memories for me. I hated looking into their trusting eyes, knowing that I was handing them over to feel pain and to give up a body part that I'd not known existed until I was 19 and moved to Europe.

Aside from religious considerations, which I respect, your husband's rationale for circumcision--"a son is supposed to look like his father"--is the most common I've encountered.

Here's my news on that: In the 11 years that my husband has had a son or two, he confesses that he can't recall a single time when any anatomy comparisons have been made. Think about it, a 4-year-old's penis doesn't look anything like a 40-year-old's, no matter how you slice it (ouch).

I can't help but suspect that all it would take for the next generation of little boys to hold on to their foreskins would be for some popular hero such as Kobe Bryant to appear on "Inside Stuff" and suggest his athletic prowess was a direct result of his parents' disbelief in circumcision. (Can't you just see the line snaking out from the local plastic surgeon's office as grown men with hoop dreams submit to expensive and painful foreskin restoration?)

If your marriage is like mine, this issue is probably not really up for discussion. After all, penises are the business of the menfolk.

Still, if what I read is true, and the official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics now is that there are too few medical benefits to justify recommending the procedure, I think many many daddies to be will do some serious reconsidering.

*

Dear Vicki: I take my little girl to the local park at least three times a week, partly because we live in a condo with no yard and partly because I like for her to meet other kids from the neighborhood.

Here's my gripe. I keep Jody's shovel and bucket and other toys all clean and with all the pieces put together, and as soon as she hits the sandbox, some other kid comes and buries her shovel and another runs off with her sand sifter. It makes me crazy that the other moms don't stop their own kids.

What are the rules regarding taking toys to a public park?

--EMILY POST OF THE PLAYGROUND

Dear Emily: All toys taken to the beach or park become the temporary property of the Family of Man.

Sure, it's upsetting to see your unsuspecting little darlin' being "robbed" of her toys by kids whose own moms were too lazy or forgetful to bring them toys of their own (for heaven's sake, even just a shovel or old mixing spoon would do!), but if you entice them by bringing the nice shiny toys in the first place, it's kind of like entrapment.

Who can blame a 3-year-old for coveting a bright yellow Tonka truck? If you enforce a hands-off policy, you punish the innocent child while his mother will more than likely remain clueless.

I know you won't be able to just sit there the next time another child comes after your kid's toys (I never could), but try to do more than act like the repo man.

Get into a game with the kids and the toys: Let one use the shovel to make the road, let the other drive the truck on the road, and any extra kids can be castle-builders. Just remember to rotate the toys every five minutes or you'll have a Teamsters strike on your hands.

P.S. Save the not-so-nice toys for the park and expect to come home with fewer or different ones than you brought. It all works out in the end. My kids "adopted" countless trucks, shovels and superheroes from their park playmates. These places are the universal lending libraries.

*

Vicki Iovine is the harried author of the "Girlfriends' Guides," a columnist for Child magazine and mother of four. Write to her at Girlfriends, Southern California Living, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053; e-mail GrlfrndsVI@aol.com. Please include your name and phone number. Questions cannot be answered individually, and no telephone calls, please.

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