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Discussing the intact male with an easily embarrassed son

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  • Discussing the intact male with an easily embarrassed son

    Hey guys,

    I'm mostly interested in feedback from parents, but any input is welcome...

    I had a conversation yesterday with my ex-wife regarding my 10-year-old son's upcoming annual checkup. It's not his usual doctor, so she has a bit of concern about where he stands on intact vs. circumcision, what comments he'll have about it (if any)...and the bottom line is that she doesn't want anything that's said to make our son feel 'different.' He's a really sweet, intelligent, and fun kid, but is very easily embarrassed if corrected or called out in any way...kinda shuts down and gets visibly stressed. The few times I've tried to talk to him about gently pulling on his foreskin in the shower to help it retract, he gets shy, mad, and won't talk about it. I'm sure that most boys experience some level of embarrassment about such things at his age (pretty sure I did as well), but she's still a bit nervous about tomorrow's visit.

    (She and my son had a bit of a traumatic experience a few years back, when a pediatrician suggested forcibly retracting the foreskin...he even moved in as if he were about to do it himself, and my ex said 'absolutely NOT.' The doc looked at her as if she were nuts, and then proceeded to tell her that if it doesn't retract by the time he's five, he should be circumcised. My son was crying, nervous, and confused. That doctor is really lucky I wasn't able to make it that day.)

    I'm sure my son has gathered a bit of info here and there from friends at school, but we haven't yet had the official Sex Talk with him (coming sooner rather than later, though)...the only reference to his foreskin so far has been instructing him to pull it back...nothing about sexual function, or that he's 'natural' and other boys may look different. I don't know how long it's been since he's seen me naked, but my ex told me he's seen his cut stepdad recently, so there's a good chance that he noticed and wondered why his penis isn't the same.

    I told her that I would talk to him before the visit. Right now, I'm thinking that I'll have my ex pick up his younger sister at some point so that he and I can be alone...maybe take him out for an ice cream or something, and without being weighty or too serious, tell him that we're gonna have a conversation that's only for us guys. Maybe I'll start by saying that just as everyone has different faces, skin color, weight, height...our genitals also differ. Then explain that while there is a difference in the appearance of his penis - compared to his stepdad, or me - that most of the boys in this world look more like him in that area, and that it's natural and beautiful and something to take pride in. Something I'm wondering about, though, is how to dive into this without explaining sexual function, leaving it as a purely anatomical discussion for now...or if that's even possible. And how to have a smooth conversation about it all if he starts shutting down with embarrassment.

    Have any of you parents of intact boys (hopefully there are some on this forum) had the experience of discussing this with an easily embarrassed son? If so, how did you approach it? Was it integrated with sex talk, or did the subject of being intact stand on its own?


    I don't discuss personal matters with my ex-wife now, but due to the subject matter, and to put her at more ease with the knowledge that I know what I'm talking about in this area...I told her that I have a unique perspective on it, because I'm restoring. She had never heard of this, and asked several questions about it. I informed her that I have never once regretted our decision to leave our son intact, and while circumcision is still a common practice in this country, anti-activism is becoming more widespread. She wants me to send her some links - not necessarily about restoration, but general intact/circumcision info (she agreed with my decision to leave our son intact, but I'm the one who did the research at the time).

    I don't want to scar her with anything graphic - circumcision videos, for instance (which I still can't bring myself to watch) - but what do you feel are the best resources out there? I was considering sending her to, and the Whole Network's list of intact-friendly doctors for starters. I'm not sure she cares so much about the restoration process, but wants to know more about care for the intact male, and general arguments against circumcision.

    Thanks, friends

  • #2
    I imagine you'll receive links to good resources. If not, then I'll look for some.

    But I can add this:

    If your son is in the US, then at 10 years old, and without symptoms of pain and/or infection, no provider can receive authorization (from a typical insurance carrier ) to perform a circumcision. They can ask, but they won't receive it. It just won't be authorized, especially if it doesn't come from a urology specialist. No authorization, no payment; no payment, no procedure.

    At 10yo there isn't a clinical expectation that his foreskin will be retractable. Clinically speaking, there have to be ongoing, concurrent physical symptoms of disease and dysfunction, which haven't responded to the usual regimen of treatments, before the provider can even ask for authorization. He has to provide proof that this is the case, as recorded in treatment records showing dates of visits, and types of treatment, and descriptions of failure, all in the provider's clinical notes.

    (Having said that, there are sometimes behind-the-scenes handshake deals between a physician group and the carrier, or, there is an outside chance that your son's provider can appeal to the carrier's medical director, but both of these variations are fairly rare (especially this last situation), in my experience at least. This would take willingly exposed necks ripe for a lawyer's, and state board's, blade if something goes wrong, and everybody likes where their head is currently, thanks ). Because it isn't recommended, and it isn't authorized, it isn't completely legal to perform.

    So if your wife is clear and firm in your united position, then there really shouldn't be any problem. If nothing else a pediatrician, and especially a PCP, aren't the ones to make money on circumcision. That falls to the urology specialist. This is true with every carrier I ever dealt with. In other words, a request from a PCP is the first red flag for the authorization staff to deny authorization for the procedure, and if the request is from a pediatrician, pretty much the same situation. Contrary to the usual bullshit you can read on restoration forums, requests for circ are routinely denied when they don't align with clinical guidelines.

    I don't have a son. So I suppose my input on "the talk" isn't necessarily first-hand, but I do have kids, so my advice would be: Immediately acknowledge both his unease and yours as well, as the first statement; as the opener for discussion. (Actually, can you imagine Info has ever had any unease about talking about bodies? All such subjects are easily broached in the Info household ).

    In other words, find the equal ground between you two, to speak from. Tell him you know that "private" always means private, but a father also has a need to keep him safe and healthy. Because you love him. And, remind him he's not a little kid anymore, so it's the parent's role to discuss certain things just to cover the usual bases. At that point the equal ground becomes man to....well, a kid who's becoming a man. More common ground.

    Simple format. So, provide simple facts, and the offer of an open door for any future discussion.

    You might also want to tell him he is quite lucky, not just because many kids haven't been left in a natural, scarless state, but also because you and his mother have had his back in this issue so far, and will continue to protect him in anything that falls under the heading of his health and safety, until he's old enough to make his own decisions. Because you love him. They really need to hear that you love them.
    Last edited by Guest; 06-26-2016, 10:10 PM.


    • #3
      Why don't you simply sit him down at a computer together and watch sex ed video from Norway, it is really down to earth and show him both the girl and boy one as it answers alot of questions and is so much better than the Western cartoon crap we get leaving us more confused about puberty.

      It's the way we handle sex ed, those parts of our bodies - that make poor kids like this embarrassed of themselves when there is no need to be - if educated correctly and treated like any other body part / function.
      All this western taboo is why there are so many potential weirdo's latter in society.
      So yes it is not easy in our society and fingers crossed your education mission goes across well and more importantly your son will be much more at ease with his whole self & esteem.

      This is how they teach sex education in Norway’s national TV. A woman takes away a towel to a man who just got out of the shower. The scene takes place in a dressing room. After total nakedness, the girl takes a sit and without second thoughts starts touching every single part of his penis that, for the second time, occupies a 100% of the screen.


      • #4
        Thanks for the thorough responses, guys...I discussed it with him earlier today, and it went very well. He was very mature and understanding about it. He didn't ask any questions, but I let him know that he's welcome to revisit it at any time. And apparently, the doctor didn't even ask about his penis at the appointment, but it was still an important conversation.