Is there an age when it is no longer appropriate to take a child of the opposite sex to a public toilet? I was lucky my first three children were girls so it wasn’t an issue for many years but over the past year or two my son (age 8) has refused to go to the ladies toilets and quite frankly, I think he is at an age where he should use the men’s toilets. Having said that, it doesn’t ease my fear that he will be molested or abducted the moment he steps foot inside the door of the gents bathroom.
I stand guard outside the men’s room watching every man enter and exit, imagining the worst of each and every one of them until my son nonchalantly returns, usually with his hands dripping and shirt half tucked into his pants.
I am particularly suspicious of public toilets after I once escorted my daughters to the bathroom where there were two stalls. I noticed a shadow on the floor of the second stall of a man pleasuring himself whilst my daughter was going to the toilet. Ever since then I am on high alert for any sickos that might be loitering.
I know some people use the disabled toilet (which creates issues for people who actually are disabled) and others use the parent’s room if they are fitted with a toilet. Most places don’t have parent’s rooms and I think my son would be embarrassed to use one in any case, so maybe the problem lies with my acceptance that he will have to enter situations where I can’t monitor that he is safe.
Obviously Dad’s have the same issues with their daughters. I once escorted a little girl of about 3 years of age into the toilet as her father (a man I had never met before) hovered outside. As she went to the toilet she told me that I was a stranger and that she is not allowed to talk to strangers but then asked me to wipe her ‘foofy’ for her. I felt extremely awkward at this point and gave her directions on how she could do it herself so that there was no chance I was accused of touching the girl inappropriately.
I guess to answer my first question of whether there is there an age when kids can go unescorted into the toilets – the answer in a nutshell is no! It comes down to recognising when your child can independently go to the toilet; when your child has the confidence to go into the bathroom by themselves; it relies on your discretion to work out when it may make other patrons feel awkward and finally it relies on the facilities available.
As parents we have to allow our kids to grow and get some independence, but at the same time we need to ensure we are vigilant about their safety.
I’d love to hear from other parents. What age did your kids start using public toilets by themselves?
(Picture courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)