5 year old boy going to public restroom by himself

United States
January 29, 2007 9:03am CST
I am a mom of 2 beautiful kids..my son just turned 5 three days ago and my daughter is almost 3 yrs old. My husband travels all the time with his job so he is never around when we go shopping or anything. I have always taken my son into the women's public restroom with me. Well, he is wanting to go the boy's bathroom so bad, but I have been really reluctant to let him. I hear too many horror stories about men going in or waiting in the bathrooms of stores and parks and all and molesting kids. In fact, there was a post on here the other day from someone who's kid had been "propositioned" in the walmart bathroom! Well, we were at Chuck E Cheese the other day and my son needed to go to the bathroom. I took him and we started into the women's restroom. I asked to go to the boy's, but I said "no, just come on with me" because my daughter had to go too. anyhow, a woman was coming out with a little girl and the little girl said "that's a boy" and the mom responded with a horrible voice about "yes, and he doesn't belong in the girl's bathroom!" well, she sort of said it low to her daughter, but I heard her...she said something else, but I didn't make it out. anyhow, I know that we were in a "kid friendly" place, but--to me--this would be a PERFECT place for a child molestor to go. I mean, what would be more perfect???!! My question is...how old is too old to go with me to the women's restroom, in your opinion? I know he's probably too old now, but he doesn't think about seeing women naked or anything...he's totally oblivious to those things. It's just a place to go pee to him. I just get so scared when he goes to the boy's room by himself. I have let him a few times, but I stand right outside the door and listen. Is that going to far???!! LOL
12 people like this
59 responses
• United States
29 Jan 07
It's a difficult thing when your children are reaching that age where they seem too old to go into the wrong gender bathroom with their parent and too young to go into the right one alone. I raised daughters and had to take them to the men's room sometimes. I would open the door and make sure the coast was clear before proceeding. We would rush in and rush out. I decided it was time to bite the bullet when my daughter asked why she could not wash her hands in the "special sinks" in the men's room. She was too young to understand the difference between a sink and a urinal. With boys or girls you just have to pay close attention. Watch for a few seconds to see the men that are coming and going. Looks aren't everything, but if you can figure out or ask if the room is empty, that's when to send the tyke in. Count the seconds or minutes. If he or she seems to stay too long, ignore the sign on the door and open it. Ask in a loud voice if the child's name is in there. If they're ok, you should have no trouble figuring it out.
• United States
29 Jan 07
thank you so much for the response. I ahve let him go on in by himself a few times, but I do stand right outside the door. He hates going into the girl's room, too. I guess I need to just do what you said and bite the bullet. You have a great suggestion about watching and waiting a second and then just opening up and hollering in. Thank you so much for the great advice.
2 people like this
@smacksman (6076)
30 Jan 07
Maybe just pick a decent looking man and ask him if he would just look out for the little feller while he parforms. I've done it for others - no problem. I've also seen the mum take her child into the mens cubicle, come out, wash hands and leave. No one had a problem with that either. Maybe you are too touchy about the subject in the US?
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Jan 07
can't always pick out the "decent" looking people...more times than not a predator IS a decent looking man/woman.
@loved1 (5338)
• United States
29 Jan 07
That would be a cause for concern! I have three girls so I did not even think about it. I would have no problem with a 5 year old in the ladies room as long as he was not looking under the doors of the stalls. Luckily more and more businesses are making family restrooms. It makes it much easier when you can all go in together without anyone complaining. By the way, did you know they are putting diaper changing stations in the men's rooms sometimes? I love this idea! My husband no longer has any excuse not to change that poopy diaper!
3 people like this
• United States
29 Jan 07
I LOVE the diaper changing in the men's room. It's great!!! LOL And, I think all places should have the family restroom. I know our Walmart has one, but it seems to always be broken. I haven't seen another one in any other stores in my area. There isn't one at Target or the mall or Toys R Us...nowhere except Walmart.
1 person likes this
@ricknkae (1726)
• United States
30 Jan 07
I both like the ideas of more family restrooms and chamging tables in men's restroom !!!!!
@getnbuy (1315)
• United States
30 Jan 07
That mother should be ashamed. for the safety of the boy, he should be welcome in the girls bathroom. You are right, too many things can happen to a child alone in a bathroom. He is not going to see anything in the girls bathroom. Nobody goes naked , everyone goes in their own little cubicle. So, what's the issue? People should be more tolerant of parents trying to keep their children safe.
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you so much
• United States
30 Jan 07
Don't mind what others think. I have a 9 year old son and if he's with me and my other daughters, he goes with us and no one gives us a bad time. I want to make sure all my kids are safe so I'm more comfortable taking him with me.
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you.
@Sissygrl (10999)
• Canada
30 Jan 07
I think you are right to take him into the bathroom with you. i would too. Who cares what those other women think. you will probably never have to see them again so who cares what they say or think. Or maybe you can ask them why they dont let their daughters go to the bathroom alone and ask them why you should let your son go alone into the mens bathroom. I think i would just shrug it off. they must have pretty pathetic lives to have to complain about something so trivial as a little boy going into the womens bathroom WITH his mom. I take my stepson in there with me too. so Keep it up! let them talk those chicken heads!
2 people like this
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you. "Chicken heads!" LOL that is TOOO funny!~
@superchook (1786)
• Australia
30 Jan 07
I found this very hard when my sons wanted to go to the men's room too, I can't remember what age they were but I still get nervous when my 11 year old has to go on his own. You just don't know who is around these days. That woman was so rude, she obviously didn't have boys and didn't know what it was like. Even if she didn't have boys, it doesn't take a genius to work out that the your son was going to the ladies toilets because of safety reasons. What about a parents room if they have any? Would he be happy to go in there? Or a disabled toilet? Its hard because I am sure he wants to be a big boy but he doesn't understand what can happen. I don't think your going too far. You just want to make sure your son is safe. There is nothing wrong with that.
2 people like this
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you. there was no family restroom here or a handicap toilet. we always use those if they are available. i am so glad i am not the only one with these feelings. sometimes i think i am being overprotective, but i would so much rather be safe than sorry.
@ModelMom (129)
• United States
30 Jan 07
There is NO way that I Would let my 5 year old son or daughter go into a public restroom alone. That woman you overheard sounds too opinionated and judgemental for her own good. It is a sad fact, that nowadays you just can't be too careful with your kids. There are too many sick people out there. My son is only 2 1/2 so I always take him to the women's room unless my husband is around and then he goes with his dad to the men's room. I think I'll feel comfortable (is it ever really possible to feel 100% comfortable though?) to let him go to a public restroom by himself when he is like 8 or so......I'd rather be called crazy than negligent!
2 people like this
• United States
30 Jan 07
i agree. i think that 8 is still young. i mean, these predators like different ages and even 8 is too young to fight a grown person off. ya know? i always said i wouldn't be an overprotective mom, but i guess i am. LOL
@bigmommy (52)
• Philippines
30 Jan 07
I don't think your son is too old to go to the ladies' restroom with you. He's certainly too young to go the the men's room by himself! How about bringing your son to the restroom for the handicapped instead? there are diaper changing stations in there right? so i assume even bigger kids are welcome there. but if these aren't available in your place, just go ahead and bring your kid to the ladies' room then. don't mind the stares and the rude comments. you're just looking after your little boy, there's nothing wrong with that!
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you so much for the comment
• Philippines
30 Jan 07
i also have a son who's now 14 years old, but i brought him to the ladies restroom until he was around 8 or 9 years everytime his dad was not with us when we go to the Mall. You're absolutely right in protecting your son and there's nothing wrong with standing right outside the door whenever you allow him go by himself, i also did that before.
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you..i am really glad to see so many people on my side of this.
• United States
30 Jan 07
I DO NOT THINK YOU ARE OVERREACTING AT ALL. MY SON IS 10 YRS OLD I HAVE JUST STARTED LETTING HIM GO BY HIMSELF. I WOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT THAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK WHEN YOU TAKE HIM WITH YOU IN TO THE LADIES RESTROOM BECAUSE IF IT WAS THEIR CHILD THEY WOULD DO THE SAME THING.
2 people like this
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you so much! I am so glad to have all of you give my your opinions. I feel so much better about taking him in.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Jan 07
I have a 5 year old boy too. A lot of the time I take him to the ladies room. Im sorry if it irritates people. We try to be very respectful of others, use family rooms when possible and so forth, but when it comes to my childrens saftey there is no compromising. If I am sure the bathrooms are safe and somthing I could run into if I needed to he uses the mens room, If I am unsure I nver take the chance. I like you always listen and I think it is my right. Anything said infront of my child is okay for me to hear. The world is getting to be a scary place and Id rather have a son in the ladys room than no son at all.
• United States
30 Jan 07
that is absolutely true! i like that "haveing a son in the lady's room rather than no son at all". that says it all! thank you
1 person likes this
@14missy (3185)
• Australia
30 Jan 07
Well I would do the same things you are doing. I often take my five year old into the toilets with me. Once I sent both my 8 and 5 (then 4) yr old to the mens restroom and I stood at the door, asking every person that went in to check on them. I also am paranoid but it is better than having something happpen to your beautiful children. I say keep taking him in with you or use the parenting room if they are available.
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you so much for taking time and responding. i am glad i am not the only one out there in this dilemma and that I am not so much overpretective as I think sometimes.
• United States
30 Jan 07
To me that is just too young to go to the bathroom by them selfs in a public place. I'd be in a panic if they did. I don't care what people think I would take him in with me into the womans restroom if they didn't have a family one. I'd about 7-8 would be okay to the bathroom by themselves. But until then...sorry no I am not having it. lol
2 people like this
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you for your thoughts. I am on board with you...but, i do know he is trying to assert his independence and I want to encourage that. I think I will do what some others ahve suggested and let him go sometimes by himself and just make sure he is alone in there and watch who goes in. Lukcily, he is pretty quick in finishing his business.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Jan 07
Oh boy, this is a tough one. I have two boys and I used shudder at the thought of them going to the bathroom by themselves for the same reasons you have mentioned. They say "oh Dad, we can go ourselves ... we are not babies". I still keep a close eye on them and they are seven and nine. I want them to feel that I trust them so I watch them closely and if I do not see them in a minute I will check in on them. It is scary but eventually they need to do this on their own. I think I will watch out for them until they are grown ups.
2 people like this
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you so much for taking the time to respond. You are absolutely right about letting them feel like they are trusted. I want my son to know that I trust him and I want him to grow up and be a sweet little independant boy, but it's so hard. I will have to try to do it more, though. thank you and you are right...we WILL watch out for them even after they are grown! LOL
1 person likes this
@villageanne (8579)
• United States
29 Jan 07
The mother may not have ment to be rude to you but helping to protect her daughter. Maybe she did not want her to think it was ok if she saw a MALE (man) in the ladies room. I think a little boy should be taken with an adult until he is at least old enough to take care of himself. It is too dangerous to let a child go to a public restroom by itself. Sad but true. As far as age, I am really not sure. It would depend on the child as well as the neighborhood that they public bathroom is. I would not worry about what others say or think. If is the parents job to keep the child safe and that is what you are doing. No standing outside the door is not going to far. Do what ever it takes to keep him safe.
2 people like this
@ricknkae (1726)
• United States
30 Jan 07
well I think that in the times and days we are living , you are not being paranoid. And eventhough it is good to show him you trust him and he's a "big" boy now, I would keep a close eye on him. Better be safe than sorry is my motto when it relates to my kids ! It is a pity that some people would frown at a woman bringing her son in the ladies' room or a man bringing a daughter in the men's room ... but I think it is a culturel bias because in France for instance I know that people would consider it normal until around 8 or so ... I would see that happen very often So many things happen nowadays... Anyways good luck with your kids
• United States
30 Jan 07
yes, i agree...my kids are my only priority. i really don't care that people think he is too old, however, it does bother me. i will go ahead and let him go by himself every once in a while when it's a place i feel comfortable with and i see that nobody is in the restroom at the time. i just think it's horrible that our lives are so dictated by sick people.
1 person likes this
@ricknkae (1726)
• United States
30 Jan 07
I hear you there
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Jan 07
I think you're doing the only thing that you can do as a mother. You're giving your son independence, while at the same time being vigilant. Make sure you time him. Say, if he's in there longer than 4 minutes, you're going in after him. Perhaps the line was long, or he had to wait to wash his hands, but you'll know that you're doing your job. Kudos. When my son is 5, he'll still be going in the woman's restroom with me.. cause I'm too overprotective, but that's something that I have to deal with.. you're doing a great job.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Jan 07
thank you so much for the pat on the back. i know I am doing the best thing...i just question it sometimes. i always swore i would not be the overprotective parent and here I am. LOL
@BDnLacy (324)
• United States
30 Jan 07
In today's world, you have every right to be concerned. My youngets is 10 and he doesn't go into a public restroom with out an older brother or my husband. I have gone into a mens room if the situation arises and he has to go in alone, and I think it is taking to long. As far as Chuck echeese being kid friendly goes. This is the kind of places I fear more because parents tend to let their guards down in such places and pediphiles know it. So you should be more aware in them. If a preditor will grab a child in the front yards of their own homes, a child isn't safe anywhere in public. I hear parents say all the time, "it's ok to let them run. just look at all the people around here. No way would some one try something here." BULL! This is a perfect place for a pediphile to grab a child. With a little convincing, or a harsh threat. A preditor could walk right through the crowd and no one would even look their way.
• United States
30 Jan 07
EXACTLY! If I were a predator, where would I go? I would go to a park or Chuck E Cheese or someplace like that. You are exactly right about parents letting their guards down at these places. So many parents just sit down and gab or whatever and the kid is running all over the place. Don't get me wrong, I am just as guilty..the other day, I went to get more coke in my cup and my kids were sitting at the table within my sight...i turned around for LITERALLY 5 seconds to fill my cup and when I turend back around, they were gone! LOL They just got up and took off to play! I looked everywhere for them. I wasn't too scared, but concerned. I have been there once and some strange man was lurking around. He was not with any kids and he was just wondering around watching the kids play. it was creepy.
@bonbon50 (659)
• United States
30 Jan 07
They have very little tiny shrill alarms that are about the size of a keychain. All you do is pull the 2 pieces apart and the alarm is piercing. You might want to get one of these and show you son how to use it (very easy!) and instruct him on when it would be appropriate to pull it. That way if you're outside the 'boys' room and hear the alarm you can rush right in. This will give him the independence he's longing for and will align your fears some.
1 person likes this
• United States
30 Jan 07
wow, what a great idea! do you know where i can find one of these? i will have to look for one. thanks
@mbarryton (1873)
• United States
30 Jan 07
lol no its not going to far at all i do the same :) you can never be too careful and as for the small boys going into a womans bathroom i see nothing wrong with it at all..my son is 7 and if i have to go to the bathroom in a public place and he does too he goes with me....just like the other night at the movies i was standing in line to get popcorn and both my children needed to go to the restroom so i said ok go i can see it from here so the girl went in the womans and he went in the boys i could see who went in and out so i was ok with it...well while we was watching the movie my little boy wanted ME to take him to the restroom so i did i needed to go anyways but i took him in the girls where i knew he was safe...there was people in there that started laughing and whispering to themselves once they seen him and was on their way out. my son felt so bad about this..well on our way back to the movie i ran into these 2 people and i told my son i said see its people like that ,that ended up getting their kids hurt and i kept walking. they just shut up and stared. but the fact of the matter is until my son can fend for himself or i knows hes ok with doing it himself ill continue to do what i do for the safety of my son.
• United States
30 Jan 07
LOL thank you so much...great comeback. you know, i used to be sort of shy and didn't really state my opinion much, but now that i have become a parent, if something is said to me or where I can hear it about my kids, i don't hold back. Isn't it funny how we become momma bears! LOL