One morning in August 1995, I stood in a recovery room of our local hospital, exhausted from watching my wife give birth. She was also tired for some reason—maybe from watching me watch her—and was drifting in and out of sleep.

A nurse approached me through the fog and asked if we wanted our son circumcised. Her pen was poised expectantly over a clipboard. My long silence confirmed that I hadn’t thought about it one bit.

“Most people do,” she said. If I had been a parent for more than an hour, I might have countered, “If most people jumped off a cliff…” But I was new at this, so I just nodded.

The next day, the knife fell.

Dale McGowan is chief content officer of OnlySky, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies, and founder of Foundation Beyond Belief (now GO Humanity). He holds a...

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