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Moms Talk: Boys and Public Restroom Dilemmas

This week we’re discussing a problematic issue for many mothers of young boys: When can they go to a public bathroom alone? Do you drag your 9-year-old son into the women’s room for safety’s sake?

Oh, this is a tough one, moms.

I have an almost-six-year-old boy, and I would rather walk across a bed of hot coals or eat a canned biscuit than let that child go into a public men’s room alone.

But the thing is, he’s getting bigger-- and ladies are starting to give us wary glances when we shuffle through the women’s room door in Target together. I shrug those glances off, because to me they are very much preferable to the agony of waiting outside the men’s room door knowing Jack's inside.

Maybe I’m overprotective. Actually, I am overprotective, and I’m fine with that. Because I can’t stop running this story through my head when I imagine my tiny boy in a men’s room alone.

I place a high value on my peace of mind, and for now, if braving disapproving stares in the women’s room is the price to pay, count me in.

After all, what alternatives do we have?*

We certainly don’t let them out of our sight while we’re in a public place, so why in the world should we have to send our little boys into a room with strange men inside and close the door?

When they’re somewhere with us, and we have to go, do we make them stand outside and wait for us?

My answer to these questions is a vehement NO.

However, I know very well that there comes an age when it really isn’t appropriate to take your son into the women’s room anymore. And what I’d like to ask you moms is this: When is it?

When that time comes, what exactly do you do? Do you escort them to the men’s room door and stand right outside? Do you, God forbid, peek inside first?

Speak out Parents:

What about you? Does your son go to the restroom with you in public places? What do you do with your older sons? Please weigh in!

Side Note: The author would like to take this opportunity to publicly express her undying gratitude to public establishments offering family restrooms to patrons. 

Marcy20 June 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
A lot of these moms think the best way to protect their children is to constantly keep on eye on them. They will grow up someday and they will eventually venture out on their own. What lessons will you have taught them to be self-sufficient? Have you taught them about listening to their gut feeling? Have you taught them to scream bloody murder if someone tries to hurt them? These children need to be taught common sense and these mothers need to use common sense. If you send a boy into the bathroom and he's gone for 20 minutes, why haven't you gone into to check on him? I doubt you'll be arrested for checking on your child. Independence, coupled with knowledge is healthy for a child. Watching your 12 year olds every move is not. And for those mothers who do bring their boys into the bathroom, you'd better be able to make them behave. I have had boys wiggle under the door and stand up in MY stall. I have had boys stand outside their mothers stalls and press their little eyeballs to the gap in my stall. And when I have said something, the mothers got mad at me! I expect privacy when I use a restroom. Yes, that's why you get the eyerolls. And one last thing, if your boy is sporting a moustache, he's too old to be in the ladies room with you!
Agnes Nutter June 25, 2012 at 06:21 PM
My biggest concern is not for the privacy of the adults using the restroom (although anyone who tries to crawl under the door into my stall is likely to get my shoe in their face, I don't care how cute they are). For me, it's more about training my kids to have the right instincts in situations, to know how to handle things like using a public toilet and not being able to reach the soap, or having a weird guy talk to you, or whatever. Public restrooms are fairly safe, controlled environments that still give a lot of opportunity to flex one's problem solving/creep radar muscles. I think it's good to give kids the chance to develop those instincts early. That's also why I still ask them if they would rather come into the women's room with me. If they pick up on something that I miss, then they have the chance to recognize it and deal with it.
Raven Nichols July 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Marcy20- I totally understand your beef. Children should be taught to be independent and self-sufficient. I agree with you there. But there are some situations a child is not equipped to handle. They are CHILDREN, after all, and they are our responsibility to protect until they can properly take care of and defend themselves. Just this morning a friend of mine posted this story: http://www.kptv.com/story/18996322/documents-reveal-boy-broke-knife-in-half-during-wendys-bathroom-attack#.T_2hSUdTgkg.facebook What chance did that child stand against a grown man with an evil soul and a weapon behind a locked door? I shudder to think what might have happened if other adults hadn't intervened in time. I agree there's a cut-off age for boys in the women's room. I'm not advocating pre-teens accompanying their mothers. But you can believe I'll be vigilant and even inappropriate whenever it's needed to maintain my child's safety.
Andrea W. June 08, 2013 at 05:05 AM
This evening I was yelled at by a man with two young girls for allowing my very recently turned three year old boy into the women's restroom. I was curious to find out if anyone thought I was out of line for standing up to this man and telling him his little girls would have to wait if he had a problem with it. To me, the man was outrageously crazy to even think a three year old could do harm to his two little girls whom were much older than my little guy. As far as I am concerned the risk of sending my son into the men's room is far greater than a three year old harming a five and seven year old girl. BTW, "flex one's problem solving/creep radar muscles"? I really doubt anyone under the age of 12 really stacks up to an adult pedophile. Male adult pedophiles are extremely manipulative and much, MUCH bigger and stronger than the little children they pray on. My five year old often accompanies me into the ladies room as well. I'm assuming that is coming to an end very soon because he is becoming more independent as the days pass. For now, I'm going to pass on sending my little guys into a room full of men using urinals. I'm just uncomfortable with it and it seems AND feels inappropriate.
Agnes Nutter June 08, 2013 at 02:38 PM
I started asking my boys which restroom they want to use around age 5. As I said above, three is too young to use a public toilet alone, for safety and logistical reasons. I mean, I was barely letting my kids use the toilet in our house alone at that age, not because I was afraid of the axe-wielding sex maniac in the linen closet, but because of the endless mischief a three-year-old can cause. And because it was even odds on whether they could manage to clamber onto the toilet by themselves without falling in. So, over-protective dad was out of line, and you were quite justified in ignoring him/rolling your eyes/blowing a raspberry at him.

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