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Dear Poll: How Old Is Too Old to Bring Your Son into the Women's Changing Room?

Dear Poll: How Old Is Too Old to Bring Your Son into the Women's Changing Room?

A reader sent in a very good question last week - At what age is it inappropriate to bring your son into the women's changing room with you? Here is her story:

This was the question I had today after my swim. I was butt-naked with just a towel when a woman walks in with her daughter and son, who looked to be about 8. I felt it was inappropriate. Then again, in our day and age, is the mother expected to just let her son in to go alone in the men's rooms? I am not a mother, so I can not realistically put myself in that position.

Since I am not a mother either, I wanted to ask you all what you thought about this topic. At what age do you stop bringing your son into the women's changing room with you? Since little kids know more than we think, when do you start feeling uncomfortable with children of the opposite sex in the same room as you while you're getting dressed?


JLM1883 JLM1883 3 years
I'd say it's up to the patents discretion and local laws, really. Though in regards to a poolside/gym locker room, make sure Dad or an Uncle... Some one you know would keep the boy safe from creepers in the Men's room is present. If that's not possible don't go to the pool/gym. A boy over the age of 4 should be pretty well behaved in the bathroom, be it Men's or Women's. They would've out grown the peeking under stalls routine. ...and this is coming from a guy who was still taking baths with his various babysitters between the ages of 5 and 8.
Girl101 Girl101 8 years
I have children and it depends on your location. If it is at a safe place and there are adult males that you trust my boys can go with them. If I am at an unfamiliar pool or gym, my kids are coming into the ladies locker room. All my kids, the oldest being a 8 year old son has seen me naked and other women too. Modesty is out the window when kids safety is even remotely a concern. Sorry ladies, but when you have kids you will understand.
NYChanel5 NYChanel5 10 years
Safety is of course a concern for parents, as it should be. Children should be in the parent's stall and well behaved. Would you want your daughter seeing mens' penis' at a young age? I think not. Respect the privacy of others. Those of you with children CHOSE to have them, others should not be made to feel uncomfortable shopping or at the gym. If you can't have well-behaved kids in public, or afford a sitter, perhaps your work out should be spending time with your kids outside. No one made you get pregnant or have the child. If you can't be responsible with your choice, maybe you need parenting courses or proper ettiquite classes in order to be respectful of those around you.
kat32 kat32 10 years
If you have kids you simply do not leave them alone. I take my 6 yr old into changing rooms with me and cannot comprehend anyone who would not.Its up to me to make sure he behaves and is quiet so as not to upset any of you that have so obviously not had kids.You only have to read the papers to see the lunatics around, so why would I leave the most precious thing in the world to me at risk?
lemuse20 lemuse20 10 years
My point exactly, some people don't know how to be a parent :P I'm not paranoid, but I could understand some women changing and then freaking out a little after seeing some 8 year old boy old enough to know better, giggling & looking under her stall. And I'm not a parent, but I have a niece that I've had to watch and she's very respectful and knows about PRIVACY and being RESPECTFUL. She's been taught well, I've had no problem with her at all. All I'm saying is, I agree that it's a scary world we live in & you should bring your young youngs with you, that is unless you're going to let them be disrespectful and invade other people's privacy. That's all. Sheesh.
jiujiu jiujiu 10 years
if you're at a gym, what are the kids doing while the mom is working out? i don't understand how this situation arises. bathrooms i understand, but if a mom is going to the gym and bringing her kids along then clearly she isn't overly concerned about the wellfare of her child.. get a babysitter or get a gym with a childcare center. just because there a ton of weirdos out there doesn't mean every parent must be completely paranoid. there's a difference between having your child and wait in the entrance to the locker room and having them sit in the midst of naked women.
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
"what's going to stop a kid from looking under a door of a stall? " umm... parental guidance? I've taken my neices AND nephews to public washrooms with me on many occasions, and never have they ever once attempted to look under the stall at another woman. I've taken them from the age of 2 up til now (their current ages are 5 and 8) and I've never had a problem with them being disrespectful in a women's washroom. Its all about how you're raised I suppose. If your child can't handle behaving himself in a public restroom, perhaps you should find a babysitter and leave him at home.
Sofiababy Sofiababy 10 years
thank you girlfriday. i really dont understand the paranoia! why some of you are SO concerned with a child looking under stalls for example? when does that happen!! and if it did? i mean really. children are curious if anything, they are not staring at you sexually. i agree with parents controlling their children. but leaving them to be by themselves [even for a few minutes] because some one believes he could be a peeping tom is BEYOND RIDICULOUS!
nessabum nessabum 10 years
i chose...actually i forgot what i chose. 5, maybe? as long as they're not actively staring or peeking. granted, i do feel uncomfortable, but it's a parents' job to teach their kid how to behave.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 10 years
There was a 10 or so year old boy who was raped this year when his mother allowed him to go into a public men's bathroom alone. So my answer is, he's not too old if circumstances dictate that the parent or guardian must be there to keep him safe. However, she should have announced it and made him cover his eyes, turn his back, etc. But leaving an 8 y.o., of any gender, by themself in public while you change is not appropriate, imo, a smart move on the mother's part.
girlfriday girlfriday 10 years
Just to point out, I am not sure what it is people are worrying about exactly... Are you concered about someone looking at you in a sexual way? Because frankly, I think a lesbian in a changing room is more likely to be checking you out than an 8 year old. And an 8 year old, with body consciousness but not yet in puberty, would be more likely to be embarassed than to be checking you out. If you are worried about perverting little boys by seeing naked women, well little boys in Europe see women topless on the beach the whole time they are growing up and Europe is not a continent of perverts, as far as I know. And on American beaches, well women wear so little anway, it's like - there's not much else to see really! I do agree that where possible, young boys should go in the men's room, or with their fathers - it's part of building their identity - but as many people pointed out, there are so many sexual predators around, and public restrooms tend to be places that they lurk. I can understand a mother not wanting to send them in alone - especially somewhere like an airport or a sporting event.
lemuse20 lemuse20 10 years
k8 rckstr, what's going to stop a kid from looking under a door of a stall? And oh, we have choices?! pfft. I don't care if someone brings their kid into a changing room, just be a responsible PARENT and mind your children! Is it too much to ask?!
minaminamina minaminamina 10 years
Actually, my father did bring me into male restrooms and the like if we were out without my mother - but here's what he did: he covered my eyes! If I needed to use the restroom when I was in primary school, he would cover my eyes and take me to a stall in a mens room, then stand outside the stall, then take me back out. I imagine I'd do the same thing if I had a young son - and, while I have no children - I understand why mothers bring their sons into restrooms and changing rooms for all reasons mentioned multiple times on this post. I would expect an older boy to have his eyes covered by his mother, out of respect for other patrons, and I would expect a mother to be able to control her children. If I felt uncomfortable because those expectations were not being met, I would speak to the mother. And I forget who brought this up before, but it ISN'T just single mums or dads who need to protect their kids - sometimes they just happen to be out alone with their children!!
Bookish Bookish 10 years
I don't understand why the little boy was taken into what sounds like a locker room. That sounds inappropriate, unless his eyes were covered, he was marched straight to a toilet, and then straight back out. I don't think children belong at a gym, unless there's child care, in which case the child should have been watched by the child care worker while the mother was in the dressing room. As far as public restrooms, this is a tough one. I have a little boy that just turned five. He loves everyone. He trusts everyone. There is no way in Hell I could send him into a men's restroom, or tell him to wait outside while I went into a women's restroom. He's well-behaved and quiet, and I take him directly into a stall and then directly out again (we stop to wash hands, of course), so he doesn't disturb anyone. I know that a time is coming, and soon, where we're going to have to take that plunge, and it's very frightening to think of what kind of people he could encounter. Personally, I think that every place with restrooms should have family restrooms in addition to the women's and men's, but that's sort of a tall order.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 10 years
I don't have children but my question is why isn't their a "Family Change Room". THey are everywhere around where I live. I think those rooms should be mandatory
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
*sigh* greggie, i hope when i have a son one day and i have to take him into the changeroom/washroom with me, you or someone with your mentality will be there and understand :)
Buffy2103 Buffy2103 10 years
Wash rooms are completely different that lockerooms. I'm assuming that by "wash room" you mean a public bathroom, and yes those are creepy. I would have no problem with a 3 or 4 year old in the women's bathroom with their mother. A lockeroom, however, is at a gym and is a place where typically you must be a member to join, so the population is far less random than a bathroom. Plus,women are changing and often their are no individual stalls in which to change. At my gym, the shower stalls are individual, but there really isn't anywhere to change in private. I would have a problem with a 4 or 5 year old boy being in there.
k8-rckstr k8-rckstr 10 years
I think some of you who are still saying a 3 year old child should not be allowed in a ladies washroom/changeroom should read this again (by the way, if you're so concerned with a child not looking at you while you change, you can always choose to use the changerooms that are set up like stalls with doors on them :) ): People who are complaining about little boys in women's washrooms obviously have no idea about the dangers of public washrooms for children. I worked as a loss prevention investigator ("floor walker" as the position is more commonly known) for a high end department store for over 2 years, and you would be astounded by the number of arrests I made in the men's washroom, for everything from exposing themselves, masturbating at urinals, male-male sexual encounters in the washroom stalls, drug abuse, attempted kid napping...the list goes on. The men I apprehended weren't typical low-lifes you would assume, they were doctors, lawyers, university professors, teachers...people you'd think were intelligent enough to realize what they were doing is wrong. After my experiences in this, I will NEVER let any future children of mine go in the washroom alone, until they are old enough to know if something is seriously wrong
Buffy2103 Buffy2103 10 years
I'm not a mom either, and I think its a little inapropriate to bring boys over 3 or 4 into the women's lockeroom. On a different note, something that bothers me even more is when women strut around the lockeroom completely naked like they are in their own home. There is a group of women in their 40s/50s at my gym that are CONSTANTLY walking around naked, talking to eachother, doing their make-up, drying their hair etc. I really don't like the daily eye-full of saggy boobs and cottage-cheese thighs. Sorry if this sounds rude, but its really obnoxious. If you are changing that's one thing, but PLEASE put on some clothes before you start getting ready and socializing with friends!!!
lemuse20 lemuse20 10 years
Nah Greggie, I wasn't referring to you :) someone else.
Greggie Greggie 10 years
lemuse, the only comment I see by you is specifically about children peeking under the changing room door. If you're referring to me as being offended, I actually agreed with you that the mother should correct the behavior or not go into the changing room. :)
lemuse20 lemuse20 10 years
My comment was directed at women who bring kids into CHANGING rooms and don't correct them on their behavior. I was obviously misunderstood and offended someone.... ha.
kendalheart kendalheart 10 years
Seeing nudity at a young age is not going to inhibit someone's development sexual or otherwise. It's not sexual abuse..that was almost laughable there.
Greggie Greggie 10 years
I was responding solely to those who were specifically said "restroom." Particularly the one who said if a child can use an elementary school restroom alone, they can use any public bathroom alone.
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