Imagine you’re out shopping and your young son needs to go to the toilet. You get there just in the nick of time – only to find out he’s not allowed in the ladies’ loos. Dad’s not there, so you either have to let him go to the men’s toilets alone, or break the rules. That’s exactly the dilemma faced by mums at an outlet shopping centre recently – and it’s sparked vigorous debate about when kids should stop going to bathrooms of the opposite gender, and how young is too young for them to go to public toilets alone.
After Oklahoma City Moms Blog posted the above photo, purportedly snapped at a local outlet mall, to its Facebook page, word quickly spread among other parenting groups. As well as bemusement and anger over the seemingly random cut-off age and potential risk to young children from such a rule, parents criticised the lack of all-gender family rooms in public places.
“There is no way I would send my six-year-old to the restroom alone. He is perfectly capable to go alone but I do not trust the men in the restroom. And I’m appalled that they posted this sign. Are women concerned about young boys? If you have an issue build family restrooms,” writes one commenter in a spirited debate on the blog’s Facebook post.
Another writes: “I don’t think I like the idea of sending my young child into a public bathroom alone. Plus in a women’s restroom what does it matter? They are stalls, not urinals.” And another: “I do let my boys go on (five years), but they have to sing loud enough for me to hear them the entire time they are in there. I know if I can’t hear them, something is wrong and that is my sign to go in.”
In a column for news.com.au, Australian writer Lisa Almond argues she wouldn’t let her seven-year-old son go to the toilet alone. “My son is still a child. Sure he’s past nappies and dummies but he’s not at the point where I’d allow him to go alone into a public bathroom where grown men who are strangers are urinating in full view of him,” she writes. “There’s no way in hell a typed sheet of paper will stop me from taking my seven-year-old son into the ladies rest room.
“Isn’t it common sense to take a child into the ladies room, where all official business is conducted behind closed doors, anyway? Everyone is fully clothed in communal areas and children are safe with parents in the cubicle area. I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if a father with a young daughter brought her into the ladies room for this very reason. In fact I’d prefer he did that if the only options given to him were male or female toilets.”
Under-par public bathroom facilities for kids have already been under the spotlight this week, thanks to actor Ashton Kutcher. The Two and a Half Men star and new dad took to Facebook to express dismay at the lack of places he can change five-month-old daughter Wyatt’s nappy.
“There are NEVER diaper changing stations in men’s public restrooms,” Kutcher, 37, wrote. “The first public men’s room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page! #BeTheChange.”
While Australia is well served with family toilet facilities in many shopping centres and other public places, it seems people really understand his pain – the post has more than 240,000 likes, 12,000 shares and 11,000 comments.
What do you think? Would you let your six-year-old go to a public restroom without an adult? Tell us below.
(via Huffington Post)