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Boys using public restrooms- when to allow them in the men's room alone


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This weekend at an outdoor mall my middle guy needed to use the bathroom. I found the restrooms and went in the ladies room with my three boys (ages 3, 5, and 7). In the restroom was another mom with her two boys about ages 2 and 4. Another woman with no children with her said loudly but not looking at either of us "since when did the ladies room become the boys room" and left after washing her hands.

 

When I am out with my boys, I look for family restrooms (Target has one, Lowes has one, indoor mall has one..) but if there are no family restrooms, then I take them into the ladies room with me. I try to move as quickly as possible, not to bother other women. And normally I have had no negative experiences in the bathroom.

 

I don't feel comfortable allowing my 5 and 7 year old into a men's room alone and I don't know yet what age I would feel ok with that.

 

So tell me, at what age do you allow your boys to enter the men's room alone?

 

I don't want to make any women or girls uncomfortable by having boys in the bathroom, but I want to maintain safety as well. My 5 yr old still needs help reaching soap in some bathrooms and figuring out various faucets and hand dryers can be difficult.

 

Thoughts?

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Probably about 7. I forget with the oldest. It was about the time he could spend the entire time singing if he went into a large restroom. Singing equaled me standing outside the door. If the music stopped I'd be storming in waving my Mom flag to find out what happened to my kid.

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My son is TEN and in a crowded place I will still take him in with me (like at a crowded amusement park, or in a mall). I don't feel one bit bad or weird about it-his safety is most important. I just ask him to keep his eyes kind of lowered while in there out of respect for the women, and we move quickly. At restaurants and such he goes in alone now but I stand outside the door.

 

I'm sure we'll be transitioning over this year. It may be a little easier for you to transition earlier than I have because you have two boys-that would make me feel a LOT better if I had two going in at once.

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Once they are around 5-6, most boys can handle using a restroom without an adult helicoptering (children go at school by themselves). I'd wait outside the door and give explicit instruction to get in, wash up and come right out and find me, or use the buddy system with the 5 and 7 year old.

 

In my opinion, 7 is definitely too old to come into a women's bathroom.

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I'm not sure but my 5yo girl is just now able to potty independently enough to be without my direct assistance. In only a few situations she can go alone (one-person bathrooms where I can see the exit). She can be in the stall alone in big bathrooms but right outside or in the next stall.

 

I wouldn't even blink at a 7yo boy in the ladies room.

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My little two often go into the men's room on their own (together), but I prefer them to come into the ladies with me. Funnily enough only this weekend my eldest told me that by the law in the UK boys are allowed to go into the ladies up until they're 14 yo; how true that is I don't know, but he seemed pretty sure of it :) .

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DD and I were using the ladies room at a gas station one time and a lady brought her son in with her - the son was taller than I am. (I'm 5' 3".) DD and I both were a little icked out by that.

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At 5 and 7 I would send them to the men's together with specific instructions to stay together. I worry more about empty bathrooms then crowded ones - it's be much more likely to be sexually assaulted in a crowded bathroom full of witnesses. I usually stand outside the door so if there is a pervert going in, they know there is a mom keeping tabs on things. I do let my now 8 1/2 yo go in by himself when his brother is not with us - he is too old for the women's room. I bring my 5yo with me if my oldest isn't there to go in with him.

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Oh, and of course we use family restrooms where available.

 

BTW-I am not a helicopter or overbearing parent-my kids have their own jack knives, BB guns, etc., and know how to use them properly, etc. They are very independent,etc, but I have heard too many bathroom horror stories, from people in my area.

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My son is TEN and in a crowded place I will still take him in with me (like at a crowded amusement park, or in a mall). I don't feel one bit bad or weird about it-his safety is most important. I just ask him to keep his eyes kind of lowered while in there out of respect for the women, and we move quickly. At restaurants and such he goes in alone now but I stand outside the door.

 

I'm sure we'll be transitioning over this year. It may be a little easier for you to transition earlier than I have because you have two boys-that would make me feel a LOT better if I had two going in at once.

Is 10 about 4th grade? I'm wondering what it would do to his male psyche to run into one of his female age-mates in the women's restroom somewhere. That could set him up for some brutal teasing.
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I'm not sure what the big deal is for the lady who was upset you brought your kids in with you. The women's restroom in most places has individual stalls with doors. Unlike the men's restroom which is a row of urinals and one or two stalls. So the woman complaining had privacy.

 

My boys are 10 and 13 now. The 10 year old is small for his age so depending on where we are I may or may not take him into the women's room with me. If my 13 year old is with us I usually send him into the restroom with the 10 year old. To protect him just in case and because he can't always reach the faucet and paper towels. The 13 year old only goes to the men's room now and has for a couple of years.

 

The appropriate age is based a bit on size and maturity. Can they reach everything they need to in the restroom? Do they know how to behave alone in the restroom? No climbing on the counter! Do they know what safety precautions to take?

 

I think a child as young as 6 or 7 could go by themselves with you waiting outside if they are big enough. But most kids can't reach the faucets to wash their hands yet, and many aren't tall enough to use the urinals yet.

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My oldest started going on his own at 5 or 6. There was no way I was getting him to go to the ladies with me again. The result of that rule would have been him holding it until he peed all over himself in the car somewhere. He also wouldn't pee behind a bush or tree (I was jealous of moms who got there sons to do this).

 

My youngest has obvious disabilities he's almost 12. He comes with me. He uses his own stall. I sometimes have to help him. Less so now, I'm more reminding hm not to walk out of the stall with him pants down.

 

I think in the ladies room there are stalls so everyone using the toilet has a tiny bit of privacy so it shouldn't be a big deal for a boy to come in with his mother if you want him with you. More and more places have family restrooms, be on the look out for them in public places.

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How incredibly rude. I would have snapped back at her.

 

The only time I allow mine in the boys restroom, is if I KNOW there is no one else in there. Then I stand right outside the door waiting. Otherwise, in they go with me to the ladies. Too darn bad if someone has a problem with that.

 

Edited to add answer: Mine aren't that age yet, but I might consider when they reach around age 9 or 10. Even then it will depend on circumstances too.

 

I applaud places with family restrooms.

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DD and I were using the ladies room at a gas station one time and a lady brought her son in with her - the son was taller than I am. (I'm 5' 3".) DD and I both were a little icked out by that.

 

 

 

He may have had special needs. I still hover outside while my son with autism - six feet tall - uses the men's room. I am not above hollering into the restroom for him, or asking an employee or another adult male to go in an yell :Joe - hurry up!" for me.

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Thanks for so much feedback.

 

I just don't feel comfortable having a 5 and 7 yr old in a mens room alone. They are on the smaller side and I haven't taught them how to use a urinal because I can't teach them! hmm... lots to think about. Places with Family restrooms are fantastic.

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Why?

 

Why might a 10 year old girl tease a 10 year old boy she knows for being in the women's restroom with his mom? (And I know that I'm totally speculating that this might occur, but I have run into people I know in the restroom at the town mall before - so I would say it's plausible). Maybe because it's not the norm at that age? Haven't you ever known some kids to tease, taunt and torment another kid who is still doing something other kids his age stopped doing years ago? It's possible that it may be better for his blooming male ego for dad to teach him to use the men's room with his head up (assured and self-confident) rather than mom teaching to use the women's room with his head down.
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Mine was 8 or 9, I can't remember. When he was that age, there was a lot of news about boys being molested in local public bathrooms. Some were at theme parks (especially water parks), some at stores. I was nervous even once I let him go. I probably would have let him go earlier if not for the many warnings at the time.

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In some public places around here there are signs saying that only boys under age 7 are allowed in a women's restroom. I don't know if there is a comparable sign like that in the men's room. I'll have to ask my dh.

 

 

I'd be upset and complain to management if I ever saw such a sign. Then I wouldn't return to the establishment. IMO, this should be a parent's judgement call.

 

I've also never seen anyone exposed in the ladies room, in all my years of using them, so I'm not sure what the issue is. If we were talking about a locker room or a men's restroom with urinals, then yes, I'd understand the concern.

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Guest inoubliable

5 or 6.

 

I'd raise my eyebrows at a kid older than that in the ladies room, and I have. I don't appreciate curious little kids peeking under stalls or in between cracks in doors/stall walls. And to be honest, I'd probably say something about a 10 year old being in the ladies' room unless that kid was obviously challenged in some way.

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I'm not sure what the big deal is for the lady who was upset you brought your kids in with you. The women's restroom in most places has individual stalls with doors. Unlike the men's restroom which is a row of urinals and one or two stalls. So the woman complaining had privacy.

 

 

I don't get it either. They're little boys for Pete's sake. It's not as though they're leering men, or even goofy, hormonal teenage boys.

 

There was only one time I ever heard a comment when I took ds into the women's bathroom with me, and that came from a little girl. She said, "Mommy, there's a boy in here." Thankfully the mom explained it to her in a matter of fact way and just told her he's not big enough to go in the men's room alone. I was grateful for her reaction.

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In some public places around here there are signs saying that only boys under age 7 are allowed in a women's restroom. I don't know if there is a comparable sign like that in the men's room. I'll have to ask my dh.

 

I have never seen a sign like that.

 

I hope any place with that kind of sign is OK with grown women walking into the men's room with their 7yo sons, because when my ds was 7, I would have been one of those moms.

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To me, it depends on the setting. At a major mall, my son was OLD before I'd let him go in alone. He is small for age. He is just over 70 lbs at 12.5 years old. At a coffee shop, quaint restaurant, etc, I let him go probably at about 7. But honestly if I saw a boy of any age in a public restroom with his mother, I would think nothing of it. Kids can have issues without knowing what they are or without them being visible. The woman who made the comment was being obnoxious

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I took my boys in the bathroom with me until they were about 8. At 8, they didn't want to go into the ladies bathroom because they were embarrassed. (they were really tall for their age) I would make them go in together into the men's restroom.

A friend of mine said she would make sure no one was in the men's restroom and let her boys go in and if a man came up while her boys were in the bathroom. she would ask them to wait just a minute for her boys to come out and she said no one ever minded, or at least acted like they didn't.

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3, 5, and 7 all with mom? Totally fine.

 

A 10 year old? Well, I don't have boys, but I wouldn't want a 10 year old boy in there with my 10 year old girls, and I definitely wouldn't want my husband taking my 10 year old girl into the men's room.

 

I totally get the angst about it though. The bathroom situation can be nerve wracking at certain venues.

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My son just turned 9. Weare just mow starting to let him go on his own, but it depends on where and I stillwait right outside. Some places he will go with me still.

 

I don't see it as an issue of whether or not he's old enough to go independently or as being a helicopter parent. I see it as a safety issue

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5 or 6.

 

I'd raise my eyebrows at a kid older than that in the ladies room, and I have. I don't appreciate curious little kids peeking under stalls or in between cracks in doors/stall walls. And to be honest, I'd probably say something about a 10 year old being in the ladies' room unless that kid was obviously challenged in some way.

 

I wouldn't appreciate it if it was a curious little girl, either. I hate it when parents let their kids do stuff like that. It's rude and it's intrusive.

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Guest inoubliable

A friend of mine said she would make sure no one was in the men's restroom and let her boys go in and if a man came up while her boys were in the bathroom. she would ask them to wait just a minute for her boys to come out and she said no one ever minded, or at least acted like they didn't.

 

I wouldn't think to ask someone to wait to use the restroom until my kids were out... I *have* once had a gentleman offer, though. All three of mine were using a restroom and a man walked in and walked right back out. He looked around for a second until he registered someone standing right by the door (me). He pointed at the door and said "Yours, right?". I said "Yes..." thinking that maybe they were messing around in there somehow and making a mess. Guy held up his hand and said, "Cool, cool. I'm just going to wait while the little men use the facilities." Before I could figure out what to say he stopped another man about to go in with "Hey man, we've got some little dudes in there for a second. How about we hang out here and give them a minute?". The other guy was perfectly fine with it. I said "thanks", kids came out, both guys told us all to have a good day.

I told DH and he said "Drug deal". :001_rolleyes:

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I wouldn't appreciate it if it was a curious little girl, either. I hate it when parents let their kids do stuff like that. It's rude and it's intrusive.

 

Yep. I've been peeked at by at least a dozen little girls over the years, but only one little boy, and he was only about 3. Some of the moms didn't even care that their girl was crawling on the floor of a public bathroom (ICK!) and looking under my stall!

 

As long as the boy is behaving, I don't even bat an eye at seeing boys up to about age 10. I've rarely seen a boy older than that, but when I did, it was in a really busy place like an airport and the boy stood respectfully by the wall near the exit after quickly using the stall. It didn't bug me at all, even when I was a teen.

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Yep. I've been peeked at by at least a dozen little girls over the years, but only one little boy, and he was only about 3. Some of the moms didn't even care that their girl was crawling on the floor of a public bathroom (ICK!) and looking under my stall!

 

As long as the boy is behaving, I don't even bat an eye at seeing boys up to about age 10. I've rarely seen a boy older than that, but when I did, it was in a really busy place like an airport and the boy stood respectfully by the wall near the exit after quickly using the stall. It didn't bug me at all, even when I was a teen.

 

:iagree:

 

I never had anyone make a negative comment about my ds being in the ladies room with me when he was younger. In fact, quite a few moms used to comment that they thought it was a good idea not to send him into the men's room on his own, and that they'd done the same thing with their own boys.

 

I think it all depends on whether or not the boy is behaving respectfully, whatever his age.

 

And I totally agree with you about the people who let their kids crawl on the floor of a public bathroom. :ack2: :ack2: :ack2:

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I wouldn't appreciate it if it was a curious little girl, either. I hate it when parents let their kids do stuff like that. It's rude and it's intrusive.

 

:iagree: I would think it rude if anyone was peeking, including an adult. That's a parenting and discipline issue. That I may say something about. A well behaved boy with his mother in and out of the women's bathroom at a busy, public venue? No problem.

 

I live near the biggest mall in the US, and if you'd send a small boy into the men's room alone there I'd think you were smoking crack crazy. To me it's more about size and confidence level than actual age. There are I also do think there is a difference between men's and women's rooms with the open urinals, etc.

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5 or 6.

 

I'd raise my eyebrows at a kid older than that in the ladies room, and I have. I don't appreciate curious little kids peeking under stalls or in between cracks in doors/stall walls. And to be honest, I'd probably say something about a 10 year old being in the ladies' room unless that kid was obviously challenged in some way.

 

Yes, but isn't usually children under 5 or 6, boys and girls, that are likely to be peeking under stalls? I can't imagine a child older than that trying to peek into a closed stall...

 

And I be careful using the words "obviously challenged." There are invisible disabilities out there, and just because you can't tell a child has some pretty significant challenges that require him to be in the women's restroom under his mother's supervision just by looking at him doesn't mean they're not there.

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Guest inoubliable

 

Yes, but isn't usually children under 5 or 6, boys and girls, that are likely to be peeking under stalls? I can't imagine a child older than that trying to peek into a closed stall...

 

And I be careful using the words "obviously challenged." There are invisible disabilities out there, and just because you can't tell a child has some pretty significant challenges that require him to be in the women's restroom under his mother's supervision just by looking at him doesn't mean they're not there.

 

Usually? I have no idea. I've seen kids of all ages peeking.

 

Obviously. Which is why I said "obviously challenged". If there were an invisible disability, well I wouldn't know, would I? If I saw a 10+ yo boy in the ladies' room just hanging out, with no obvious disability, I'd have to assume that the mother is one of those who just wants to keep their child close. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I'd find that obnoxious in a circumstance where I'm expecting privacy. I'd likely say something. If the child had an invisible disability, I'd apologize and go on about my business. Simple.

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Guest inoubliable

I had one little guy about 8 look me in the eye through the crack between the door and the stall wall. Not cool. Now if there are boys in the ladies I wait until they leave.

 

To the bolded, great idea. I think I'll start doing that.

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Although I wouldn't say anything, I might raise my eyebrow a bit if the child was older than 10. My oldest was probably 6 or 7 when I let him go, and then it was limited to small venues. Big stores, malls, amusement parks -- he still went in with me until he was 8 or 9. Mainly because he just didn't have the maturity. I still worry about him because he doesn't know how to say no, especially to adults. I don't know how to explain it other than my younger son has more street smarts than my older. My younger son began going on his own in small venues when he was about 5, and now at 8 he only goes in with me in exceptionally crowded or sketchy venues. For example, one big box store near us is well known for bathroom issues. Although the store tries to prevent it, homeless men still sneak in and use the restroom for cleaning up, which means men with sketchy backgrounds bathing in the sink. There has been issues there with these men in the past. If the family restroom is unavailable at this store, DS8 goes in with me. When possible, I send both boys together. I have also been known to be more paranoid leaving younger outside the bathroom while I go, and I have had him stand right inside the women's restroom door, away from the stalls. Generally though, I don't worry about it too much.

 

I remember going into men's rooms with my dad as a kid (probably ages 8 and below). My dad would always enter first and make an announcement that his daughter was coming in. There was never any negativity that I remember, I mainly remember the other men laughing and joking with my dad. As an adult, it strikes me that the communal feeling in the men's room was that of a right of passage for a young dad to clear the way for his daughter.

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Mine is 10 and about age 8 he started to prefer the men's room. In most situations I let him and wait right outside for him. There are still a few places I absolutely wouldn't let him go in alone, so if DH isn't along and there is no family bathroom, he comes with me. He is quiet and respectful and doesn't peek into stalls or climb on the floor.

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Those of you who don't take your boys with you if they are over 4 or 5, what do you do if YOU need to pee and for some reason just can't wait until you get home? Do you leave them outside the restroom by themselves? Until my boy is old enough to sit outside the restroom without me (at least 7 or so), he will have to come in with me, so IMO it's no big deal if he does his business while he's in there (of course, he also still needs help sometimes with buttons or reaching soap and faucets).

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