General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

How old is too old to let a male child go into a women's public bathroom?

Asked by tinyfaery (42540points) June 30th, 2008

Today a saw a kid of about 7 or 8 walk into the women’s restroom with a woman, who I assume was his mother. In my opinion, this is way too old for a boy to be in a women’s public restroom. What are your thoughts? Should we lobby for unisex restrooms, or family restrooms?

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31 Answers

scamp's avatar

7 or 8 is way too old!! I hate when women do that, but I understand sometimes a woman has no choice. I wouldn’t want to leave my child alone when in public with all the crazys out there. So this is a tougher question than it seems on the surface.

ebenezer's avatar

I would say 4.

Teeg's avatar

I think the guideline should be until a child is old enough to go to a public bathroom without a parent present. 7 or 8 depends on the location…ie department store a parent should definitely be present. Many shops would be stressed to have to create a 3rd restroom unless they were allowed to only have 1 unisex room and not worry about male/female.

SuperMouse's avatar

I started letting my nine year-old go into the men’s room by himself when he was around 8 years old. I was nervous about it and usually tried to find a family restroom (which is not easy), but I was also nervous about bringing an 8 year-old into the women’s room. I usually have him do a quick peak to be sure the men’s room is empty then I stand close to the door watching like a hawk for anyone entering. The whole thing is very unnerving.

@ ebenezer, I would say four is too young to let a boy use the men’s room by himself. I do however, let my younger boys go as long as they are with their big brother or older cousins.

@scamp, I agree that there is more to this question that meets the eye.

scamp's avatar

@ebenezer if you were out with your child and had to use the restroom, would you leave a 4 year old outside the door?

ozegold's avatar

The problem is the same with girls out with a male parent.

I used to try and stay within a short distance of a place with a parents’ room, or somewhere that I could check before letting them in…

Terrible to sound so paranoid, but…!

tinyfaery's avatar

I refuse to be a person who sees a threat around every corner, but then I don’t have children. I do however, have a nephew who I helped raise. I would actually go into men’s rooms with him after about the age of 5. There was nothing in there I hadn’t seen before, and no one ever complained.

scamp's avatar

When you have children, you will think differently tinyfaery . Being protective of your child doesn’t mean you are paranoid.

delirium's avatar

I think some bit of it may have to do with the child themselves. Its sad if a mother can’t trust a 7/8 year old to be alone for one minute, but if the kid can’t handle it (particularly if there’s a medical reason that they can’t handle it) I’m not one to judge a parent who is actually, in the end, making the responsible decision.

I remember being young and with my father and instead of taking me in to the bathroom he’d hand me a book and politely request if I could sit next to a teller for a moment reading while he went to use the restroom. This was back in NY, so I completely understand him being extra cautious that way, no matter the age (within reason).

scamp's avatar

This question can be looked at from a couple different points of view. What if it is the parent who has to use the restroom, not the child? What to do with the child while you are in the stall?

Or, how much supervison does a child need when he/she has to go? What a delima for parents with young kiddies!!

delirium's avatar

At least if you send a kid in to the bathroom alone, you can stand outside the door and know that no one is kidnapping your child, or no one who your intuition has alarm bells about goes in. I’ve seen parents who keep the outside door slightly propped with their foot (but facing away from the restroom itself) and have ongoing communication with the kid, just making sure they’re okay. I don’t mind being a patron and having a parent do that and I don’t think I know anyone else who would be annoyed by it… it usually actually makes me smile because there’s something inherently cute about walking in to a bathroom and listening to a kid tell their parent about helicopters or dinosaurs or something.
(I hope that made sense and I wasn’t just rambling.)

SuperMouse's avatar

@scamp, I was thinking about what happens when I have to go and I have my boys with me. I admit it, I brought them into the bathroom with me until this past year or so. Even now though, if I have only one of them with me, I’ll bring him in, I just get the heebie jeebies leaving them outside the restroom alone. When they are in there with me I have them stand facing the stall and make sure I can see their feet.

berocky1's avatar

@ judochop. You just made my day.

I think it should be whenever a mother feels comfortable.

thebeadholder's avatar

Or when the child feels comfortable. My boy just turned five and I ask him every time if he wants to use the men’s room. He’s not ready yet. I won’t push and he’ll go when he is ready. Kind of like potty training!

rowenaz's avatar

At the local YMCA a child OVER 8 is not allowed to enter the opposite sex changing area. I think 8 is fine, because there are just some real sickos out there, and a parent shouldn’t have to stand outside a rest room wringing their hands wondering if their child is okay.

ebenezer's avatar

scamp@ maybe my family was freewheeling as far as safety goes but I don’t ever remember being in a ladies restroom when I was a kid, but I do remember disapearing into the streets of my nieghborhood for hours at a time at 5 on.

edmartin101's avatar

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a day care next to restrooms in shopping malls when a parent wants to use the restroom? He/she could leave the child at the day care and come back to get his/her child in a few minutes. Of course it would have to be a trusted place and the child could play with other children there.

dragonflyfaith's avatar

This is a difficult question. I don’t think my concern is about the child being old enough to go into the bathroom alone but being able to wait outside in a busy store, mall, outdoor event etc while the parent uses the bathroom. I really think there should be more family bathrooms.

On a different note, what about couples where one of the adults has a disablity and cannot use the bathroom alone? Does the husband take his disabled wife into the men’s room or the women’s?

Really what is the young boy going to see in the women’s room anyway? I could understand if it was a locker room where people were changing but I don’t see what harm a male child could do in a women’s bathroom.

berocky1's avatar

@dragon. You make excellent points.

scamp's avatar

@ebenezer it was the same way for me growing up. I’d walk out the door to play in the morning, and my parents never gave it a second thought unless I was late coming in fro dinner. But sadly, we now live in different, more dangerous times, and we have to be more vigilant to keep our children safe.

@supernutjob Yours is the scenario I was talking about. Sometimes a mom just had to do what a Mom has to do!

@dragonflyfaith Well said! Welcome to Fluther!

Zaku's avatar

What evidence is there that we all live different, more dangerous times? It looks to me like recent generations are simply more afraid.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Zaku, I’ve often wondered about that question. I think parents today are more aware and dare I say paranoid, than my parents’ generation. I’m guessing there were just as many freaks out there in the 70’s as there are now.

tinyfaery's avatar

Its the news. We think its more prevalent because its such a focus of the media.

dragonflyfaith's avatar

Maybe we are more paranoid now then when we were kids or when our parents were kids, but either way there are still sickos out there and whether there are more, less or the same amount of sickos as before, I’m still going to keep a close watch on my kids. If it comes down to someone in the restroom getting offended because I took a four year old male child into the women’s room or leaving my son to the wolves so to speak someone is going to be offended and that’s just too bad for them.

scamp's avatar

@dragonflyfaith Well said!!

tinyfaery's avatar

dragonfly—is “too bad for them” your general attitude, or only when it suits you?

ebenezer's avatar

Holy Zaku! Great.

I always want to walk through the cemetery by my neighborhood late at night but I am afraid of the sign about the armed guards and K9 patrol that I have never seen there.

dragonflyfaith's avatar

@tinyfaery I only said I would rather have someone be offended that my child is in the restroom than have my child kidnapped, raped and murdered. That’s the context that I meant “too bad for them” in and in no other way.

jacksonRice's avatar

when the kid starts feeling weird or selfconscious going into the bathroom/dressing room of the opposite sex, that’s when you know s/he’s too old. i think the kid’s sense of comfort is more important than that of the adults, generally.

Zen's avatar

Until he has his own cellphone.

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