Bringing your 3-year-old boy into the ladies’ bathroom may be a necessity and a no-brainer, but is it still appropriate to let your second grader tag along with you? Many moms struggle to decide when it's okay to allow their sons to take solo trips to the men’s public restroom. To help you decide what's right for you, we’ve rounded up various perspectives from Circle of Moms members.
Better Safe than Sorry
“I bring my sons to the restroom with me because of the predators out there,” Kim B. shares. She’s hardly alone; a fear of sexual predators lurking in men’s public restrooms is by far the primary reason Circle of Moms members cite for bringing their sons into the women's room.
Sherri C. agrees: “If we are in an airport, train station or huge public venue I will still be taking my 11-year-old with me. He will NOT be going by himself. I am sorry I don't give a flying fig who I offend. I would rather my kids alive then dead or molested because they wanted some independence.”
Draw the Line at Puberty
Of course, a line must eventually be drawn. Many moms say it's definitely inappropriate to bring your son into the women's room after he hits puberty. As Amanda R. suggests: “When puberty hits and they start becoming very aware of women's bodies is when to stop. Until then, keep 'em safe.”
"Others Were Starting To Embarrass Him"
Not everyone continues taking their son to the women's room until the tween years, in fact many Circle of Moms members admit that their sons' embarrassment, as well as disapproving comments and looks from other female restrooms users, led them to stop the practice around age 7 or 8. As Marie S. shares: “My son wouldn't come in with me now if I dragged him (he's 7)." Similarly, Cara K. relays: “I had to start letting my son use the men's room at about 9 by himself. Others were starting to embarrass him, stating, ‘Hey you are in the wrong bathroom.’”
6 Tips for Safe Solo Trips
Not surprisingly, moms remain extremely vigilant when allowing their young sons to enter a public restroom without them. Here are 6 safety tip to consider:
- Look for family bathrooms: As Heidi B. suggests, scout for a unisex or “family bathroom.”
- Wait until the mens' room is empty: Several moms, including Joan S., require their sons to make sure the men's restroom is empty before using it. “I have allowed him to go in the men's [room], check, and report to me, then go back in while I wait outside!”
- Use a buddy system: “If it is a traditional public restroom," says Mandy C., "I let both boys go in together (they are 8 & 10), while I wait right outside the door."
- Talk throughout: Therese D. is one of many moms who talks to her son while he does his business: “I stand outside and keep talking to him.” Monica V. does the same: "I...wait outside and keep speaking to him to make sure he's okay."
- Discuss stranger danger: "I have talked to my kids a lot about stranger danger," says Sandy D., "and practiced what to do if a stranger approaches."
- Whistle while you pee: Angie B. relays a clever way of ensuring her 7-year-old son's safety in the men's room: “I had him go into the bathroom and then I yelled in the door that he should whistle until he leaves the restroom. Then I said that if he stopped whistling I'd be coming in to check on him. A lot of men laughed and many said they thought it was a great way to assure my son's safety!”