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Regret Moms: The Grief from Deciding to Circumcise Your Son

regret moms circumcision

Circumcision has long been debated. However, amidst this ongoing discourse, a group that is rarely discussed is the “Regret Moms,” mothers who grapple with profound grief and guilt after choosing to circumcise their sons. This article aims to shed light on their emotional journey, exploring these women’s experiences and challenges. Through their narratives, we are prompted to reflect on the broader implications for society and culture and to raise important questions about informed consent, bodily autonomy, and the need for open dialogue on this sensitive topic. Join us as we look into these thought-provoking stories, raise awareness, foster understanding, and look to end male circumcision.

The Decision to Circumcise

“One tactic to perpetuate circumcision is to scare nervous new parents into having their infants, who are vulnerable and too young to resist, circumcised. The solicitation of the procedure by doctors and hospitals is ubiquitous across the USA.” — Yale Law School

For many mothers, the decision to undergo circumcision is often rooted in long-standing family or religious traditions that have been passed down through generations. Others may seek guidance from medical professionals, considering potential health benefits or cultural norms prevalent in their society. These personal narratives from diverse mothers shed light on their unique journeys, emphasizing the significance and weight of this decision. It is important to acknowledge that, despite careful consideration, there is typically a lack of comprehensive information and understanding regarding the full implications of the procedure. To make an informed decision, gathering as much knowledge as possible and engaging in open and transparent discussions with healthcare professionals and trusted sources is crucial. By doing so, we can empower ourselves and advocate for informed choices.

It’s important to operate assuming that most mothers want what is best for their sons; however, the facts are often deliberately concealed. 

Did you know:

  • The circumcision procedure can lead to scarring around the surgical site, which may be aesthetically displeasing to some individuals.      
  • Some individuals may experience psychological distress or negative feelings related to their circumcision experience.     
  • Complications such as skin bridges or excess skin removal (we argue that any skin removal is excessive and is an assault on the individual and the natural penis) can occur during the so-called healing process.   

The Aftermath of the Circumcision Decision

The decision to circumcise a child can have profound long-term consequences for both the child and the mother. During this critical period, infants endure physical discomfort and distress, including pain, swelling, and bleeding, which can be unsettling for both the baby and the mother. Additionally, the emotional toll on the mother, encompassing feelings of guilt, anxiety, and sadness, cannot be underestimated. The mother may face challenges in tending to the wound and ensuring proper healing, further complicating the situation. Moreover, complications or unforeseen outcomes, such as infections or scarring, can intensify the mother’s regret and unease. 

“Since I became involved in the movement to stop the genital cutting of baby boys, I have heard many maternal remorse and child anger stories. Mothers have called into radio programs where I was a guest, sobbing from grief and regret about having allowed their baby to be circumcised; some of these have been the mothers of toddlers, but many are recounting stories from 15, 20 or even 40 years earlier. For every one of these mothers, there is a son – a boy or man living with the consequences of a decision he did not make but that is imprinted on his body and in his brain forever. And I have talked to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of such sons.” — Georganne Chapin, Voices Column

Marilyn Milos, the “mother of the intact movement,” has said that of all the questions she has been asked about circumcision, the most difficult one to answer is how to heal from making the decision to circumcise a son and later regretting it.

“Mothers consent to circumcision out of the best intentions and the worst kind of ignorance. Circumcision is a cultural practice; most doctors do not provide adequate information to give informed consent, and no one talks about it, so we don’t even know enough to ask the right questions. When we find out what happened to our precious baby behind closed doors, most mothers feel deep regret and profound sorrow.”

Emotional Trauma and Grief of Regret Moms

The emotional trauma a mother can endure after her son is circumcised often stems from the intricate interplay of societal pressures, cultural norms, and personal beliefs that pressured her into making that decision. 

Feelings of regret and loss experienced by these mothers are common. They may grapple with deep sadness, mourning the loss of their child’s intact body. Furthermore, their immediate surroundings’ lack of support and understanding can intensify these emotions, leaving them isolated and alone. 

Educating themselves and others about circumcision has become a crucial aspect of the healing journey for many regret moms. By equipping themselves with knowledge, these mothers can make more informed decisions in the future and advocate for their choices with confidence. This newfound understanding empowers them to challenge societal norms and promote a more inclusive and compassionate approach to circumcision.

Ultimately, this journey of coping and understanding can be a pivotal step in processing their emotions and finding a path to healing and acceptance. It is a testament to the resilience and strength of these mothers as they navigate the complex terrain of parenthood, guided by their unwavering love for their children and their commitment to making choices that align with their values and beliefs.

Finding Support and Healing as A Regret Mom

From an anti-circumcision standpoint, discovering support and healing is a vital and transformative step for Regret Moms. These incredibly brave mothers navigate a complex emotional journey and yearn for understanding and solace. Fortunately, numerous resources and support systems are available to assist them on their path toward healing.

Dedicated online forums provide a secure and empathetic space for ‘Regret Moms’ to share their stories, connect with others who have undergone similar situations, and receive invaluable emotional support. These forums create a sense of belonging and serve as a collective healing and empowerment platform.

In addition to online forums, support groups offer a more intimate setting where ‘Regret Moms’ can engage in face-to-face discussions and connect on a deeper level. These groups allow mothers to express their emotions freely, seek guidance from experienced individuals, and find solace in knowing they are not alone.

Counseling services specializing in post-circumcision, regret, and grief play a pivotal role in healing. These professionals offer personalized guidance and therapeutic interventions to help Regret Moms process their emotions, work through their grief, and find a path toward acceptance and healing. By providing a compassionate and nonjudgmental environment, these counselors empower mothers to embrace their experiences and embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery.

Ultimately, the power of community cannot be underestimated in the healing process. Online forums and social media groups dedicated to Regret Moms offer a supportive network where mothers can share their experiences, find validation, and receive emotional support from individuals who truly understand their struggles. These communities become a source of strength and resilience, enabling Regret Moms to navigate their emotions, find acceptance, and embark on a journey toward healing.

Raising Awareness and Advocacy

To spread the anti-circumcision perspective, raising awareness and advocating for educating parents about the potential implications of circumcision are vital. Activists and organizations are deeply committed to sharing comprehensive information highlighting the procedure’s physical and psychological impacts.

There is an increasing demand for healthcare providers to offer transparent and comprehensive counseling sessions, equipping parents with the necessary knowledge to make truly informed decisions.

Moreover, ‘Regret Moms’ voices resonate strongly as they share their experiences with new or expecting parents, providing invaluable firsthand insights and guidance. These collective efforts aim to foster a more informed understanding of circumcision and its potential consequences, ultimately empowering parents to make thoughtful choices for their children’s well-being.

As Milos says, “We can’t take back our grievous mistake, but we can do everything in our power to protect our sons in the future. We can apologize to our sons and end the wounding in our families. When parents become informed, they will spare future sons from the pain and trauma of circumcision. Tell your story to anyone and everyone who will listen.


1 Comment

  • James Okoriji

    Reply June 12, 2024 2:52 am

    I am not a regret mom but I am a man who was mutilated as a baby. I feel that the mothers who have the empathy and common sense to acknowledge that they regret that they mutilated their babies with so little knowledge of the subject prior to doing so and/or due to societal pressures is notable. Most people have been conditioned into thinking that their own needless enslavement or even the ruination of them , their peoples, and their cultures was somehow ‘good’ for them. And many more understand this nonsensical ruination and just lay down and accept it! Some even assent it! Just look at most of human history… These regretful mothers are cut from a different cloth clearly.

    I feel that the strength of these women is nearly as gargantuan as the mutilated children who suffer needlessly as a result of this archaic butchery and choose to spread information to end these cycles of suffering. And this is a publicly commendable feat in my opinion.

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.