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Question Regarding Boys in the Bathroom with Their Mom

Wondering how other Moms handle their sons seeing them in the bathroom or shower. When they are little it is not big deal for them to be in the bathroom with you, but at what age do you cut it off and how do you explain the sudden need for closed/locked doors? It seems like making a big deal of it will alert him to the differences and take away the innocence prematurely, especially when he seems oblivious to your body parts. Should his need for privacy be the guide to make that change? Plus, how do you handle public bathrooms without your husband--at what age is it okay for him to go to the men's room alone? How did you handle these things?

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Thank you all for your advice...I am going to use much of what I read! My husband is more concerned about this than I am, hence my asking for your opinions. He came from an overly modest home and I came from an overly open home. Our goal is to be healthy balanced parents not leaning too far either way. We have always answered our son's questions with complete honesty and accuracy. At five years old, he knows the real name of body parts and does already understand the difference in boys and girls. But, he doesn't seem to care, nor has ever stared at my body parts or even commented about them. If he seemed to notice, believe me, I would have already locked him out of the bathroom. He is starting kindergarten next month, so perhaps we will work harder on the privacy issue so we can avoid him having an uncomfortable moment later. As far as the public restroom, he is going in with me if Dad is not around for a long time to come. I have let him go in the single men's rooms while I stood outside, but he really prefers the ladies room too because of the cleanliness. I agree with so many of you that it is just not safe. It is hard because my son is very tall for his age and everyone thinks he is older than he is. But, I think most moms understand and support it.

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I was wondering the same thing! My son is 5 now and I think I will start with the private space thing. It was bothering my husband more than it was me but after all the responses, I think I can see his point a little better!
Thank you!

I think once you start feeling uncomfortable. I really don't think it is that big of deal until then. We have two girls and that is how I feel about their dad. My 2 1/2 year really could care less; so do we. However, I was taking a trip with my parents (their grandparents); and we were all sharing a suite. One of my girls was only 18 months at the time and my dad felt uncomfortable undressing in front of her. I think it is different for everyone! Good luck!

I think that you make a change when you start to feel uncomfortable. That will come at an earlier age for toilet rooms and at a later age for changing rooms. We have a pretty open household, but a closed door does not need to be locked because we have taught that a closed door is a signal for privacy needed. Locked doors are not allowed and closed doors are not opened. -- Many questions can be answered matter of factly and you can still feel comfortable. -- I still can make a quick changes in front of my teenage boys if the need arises (like in a hotel room, etc) and not feel gawked at. -- I took my boys in the womens' bathroom with me for as long as I could for safety reasons. When they started wanting to go in the mens' room, I sent dad in if he was there. Otherwise I stood by the door and waited. Slowly this became waiting at the table with an eye on the door, and then finally just comfortable with the situation. They know that there are some sickos out there, and to leave a situation that is not comfortable, etc.

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I think it needs to be different for every family, depending on their level of comfort about personal space.

Our family, we tell our kids about respecting the differences between the two genders. That God created everyone equally beautiful but in different ways. That helps lay the groundwork for respecting others' privacy.

We also use this opportunity to tell kids about "NO ONE can see you without clothes on unless you say it's okay. That includes doctors, friends, and even us." Parents who have a good, healthy relationship with their kids wouldn't need to see them without clothes on unless there is some special need (like an injury or a rash, etc.). And, this also helps our kids understand that they can't see us without our clothes on unless we give them permission.

If our kids ever want to see a naked human body, we have absolutely no problem showing them an in-color medical text. But at about Kindergarten age, both boys and girls don't need to see other people (adults OR kids their own age) naked. It's also an important part of the discussion, however, to have very open communication. We explain that nakedness is not BAD but rather it is PRIVATE. (Kinda like, your body belongs to YOU. It is one of the few things that solely is yours and no one can take it from you so protect it.)

But that's my family's take on it. You should probably talk to your spouse about it. Ultimately, though, (long story not avoided, sorry!) Is that Kindergarten age is plenty late enough to start practicing privacy.

1 mom found this helpful

great question and I think we all have gone through it, I also think the answer will be different for each person parent and Child.

I have three BOYS so I'm definitely face this one. my first two were 5 and 4 when my third was born and I decided to breast feed... then began some questions, I always answered each question correctly using appropriate (technical) terms. there were no issues there, they accepted it with no problems, I always made an effort to change clothes away from where they were but f they walked in it was okay, but I would turn away from them very matter of factly, never making a big deal of it, then one day when my oldest walked in on me changing my shirt, he felt embarrassed, giggled and ran off, He was about 5 when this happened, I knew it was time to attempt to be more respectful of boundaries, I used that same time to teach my 2nd child not to walk in on Mommy in the bathroom, my 3rd (3 yrs old now) still walks in on me all the time, and it doesn't seem to bother him or the older ones. Funny though the boys don't mind if I come in and help out when they are in the shower but they still like privacy when they change clothes or go potty, they really were the leaders in setting the boundaries, they began to cover up or look away, so I just went with it.

as far as bathrooms... I still struggle with that one sometimes, I'm luck that I can tell them to go together and stay together in public bathrooms, so I feel there is safety in numbers, but there are places I wont let them go by them selves. if they do I stand out side practically blocking the door and I intentionally speak to whoever goes in and who ever comes out, reason being that if I acknowledge them then they are less likely to think they can get away with something because they will know that I saw them, I learned this theory when I worked in Retail for years, people were less likely to steal/shoplift if you acknowledge them in some way, because they think you are more aware of them or that you are watching them. so I do the same with people going in and out of the bathroom while they are in there. they are getting older now (9 and 7) so I do have to let go a bit but when it comes to safety I don't mind if ladies bring their kids in the bathroom with them. I also try to use the "family" restrooms when available, Some malls as well as most Walmarts. I've also been known to go to the Mens room with them in single and double stall bathrooms since there are three of them we take up the whole space anyhow, I just lock the door...

Kids in the bathroom is one of those things where I think you cant be too careful about!

1 mom found this helpful

I don't remember how old my son was or even if it was ever an issue. I think because me and his older sister always closed the door to the bathroom(not that it didn't stop him from coming in)- it wasn't an issue on privacy.

Public bathrooms. My son was in kindergarten (age 5) and we were at a very busy restaurant with friends. He had to go to the bathroom, but refused to go in the girls bathroom (had never been an issue before). So, I told him he could go in to the boys bathroom, but he had to sing loudly 'so Momma could hear him'. His sister took him (he didn't want Momma to go with him). She came back to the table - then she turned beet red because (even in the middle of this noisy restaurant) you could hear my precious little boy singing at the top of his lungs. I went to the bathroom door - men were coming out laughing - and asked a man to go back in and tell my son he didn't have to sing so loud. Course, the man held the door open so when he told my son this, I would be able to let him know it was ok. I then waited outside for him to get done. I realized at that point that he would be able to go to the boys bathroom and didn't have the need to go into the girls bathroom with Momma. (I was never too far away.)

1 mom found this helpful

I can understand why some of the moms responded the way they did but personally in my home I don't mind my 6 yr old son seeing me in my under garments. We do close the doors to our bathroom and he usually will not enter unless he knocks first but if he's in my room when I exit the bathroom, I don't tell him to leave. He will never see me completely nude but I think it's healthy for them to understand the human anatomy when they are this young and continue to embrace it as they get older so that curiosity doesn't get the better of them and you wind up finding him/her in a closet with the neighbor child. (scary!) As far as public restrooms, one mom said when the child starts to want to go into the mens restroom to be a big boy is when it's time. I agree but nowadays with all the unthinkable things happening to our children I still insist on my child accompanying me into the ladies room if his father is not with us. I'm sure other mothers understand this and so I don't worry about him being too "old". I've even started to stress the no-no's of talking to strangers and physical encounters in his private areas. Our children grasp a lot more than we think they do so don't underestimate their level of comprehension. Good question!

I stopped getting undressed with my son in the room when he was 3. I kept more privacy for myself after that. He just turned 6 this past May and I banned him from my bathroom. I'm tired of him hanging around in there and "accidentally" walking in on me all the time. So, I just flat out told him that my bathroom is my space and I need some privacy. The only issue is that I have an 18 month old daughter that I still do everything with in my bathroom (bathe her and allow her to be in there when I am getting dressed). I don't think he would have a problem at all with me wanting privacy except for the fact that SHE is still in there.

In regards to public bathrooms, I play that by ear. If we are in a relatively empty restuarant, then I will let him go into the men's room by himself. If there is any kind of crowd at all, he goes with me. Ironically, he tells me that the men's room really stinks!

-L.

Thanks for asking this question -I'm surprised by all the answers. I have a 13 mo old girl and a boy on the way - we don't undress in front of her at all and haven't since she was born. I guess I'm super stuffy. This thread has me wondering if I'm too much of a prude!

I think that you make a change when you start to feel uncomfortable. That will come at an earlier age for toilet rooms and at a later age for changing rooms. We have a pretty open household, but a closed door does not need to be locked because we have taught that a closed door is a signal for privacy needed. Locked doors are not allowed and closed doors are not opened. -- Many questions can be answered matter of factly and you can still feel comfortable. -- I still can make a quick changes in front of my teenage boys if the need arises (like in a hotel room, etc) and not feel gawked at. -- I took my boys in the womens' bathroom with me for as long as I could for safety reasons. When they started wanting to go in the mens' room, I sent dad in if he was there. Otherwise I stood by the door and waited. Slowly this became waiting at the table with an eye on the door, and then finally just comfortable with the situation. They know that there are some sickos out there, and to leave a situation that is not comfortable, etc.

S.,

I have 3 girls and we were pretty open, until my now 6 year old (she was 3 at the time)started noticing that Daddy had a "tail". She then asked did her uncle have a tail like Daddy. So Daddy started keeping them out of the bathroom when he was in the shower. We kindly stated yes all boys have tails and all girls have vaginas. :) I still let them in the bathroom with me because they are girls. Ironically I wanted them to know the real name for the female part but could not come up with a "good" name for the male organ. I never mentioned the word for boys, so we went with the "tail" once our profound 3 year old helped us out. :) So all 3 now call it the "gina" (same sound just drop the va) because at the time the word vagina was a big word and I don't think they could say it very well, so we stayed with "gina". I guess when they start being very inquisitive, then change your flow.

At home, don't make it a big deal. Whenever you think it's the right time, just start closing the door. And be sure to implement house rule of "knocking first". That worked for us. As far as the public bathroom, it depends how crowded it is. If there is a lot of people, he went with me. If it was less crowded, I let him go by himself but I stood outside the door. We knew it was time to do that because he started to complain about always going to the girls bathroom...he wanted to be a "big boy". Use your gut instinct...you can't go wrong.

My boys are 7 and 4. Both of them know and understand the difference between Mom and Dad. They asked questions, and we answered them. I didn't act shameful or embarrassed and it seemed to make it easier for the both of us. My husband is a Firefighter so I am alone for 24 hours. Both of my boys still come into the bathroom when I am showering and using the bathroom at times. My 7 year old however, stays pretty clear or makes no eye contact with any part of me when I am in the bathroom. If I am in the shower he doesn't peek. That has come on his own, and I am fine and completely okay with that! My 4 year old still likes to shower with me. We are in the process of him not showering with me. We have only one bathroom in our house so to lock the door all the time isn't really an option, especially when nature calls for them. I don't know if this helps at all. I do know that for me growing up it was taboo to see my dad in even his underwear and I never understood. We are a little more open with our kids because it's nothing to be ashamed of, but we aren't careless about what they see either. I think it all comes down to your comfort level. I think you just have to talk with them and be open to questions either way you go from here. I hope this helps some. Good luck.

I think I told my [now 21-yr old] son around the second grade that there would come a time (probably in a year or two) when both of us would rather have our privacy and that he'd probably recognize that time. We kind of eased into it gradually.

Regarding public restrooms: I remember that as being a little scary, but I told him that no one should touch him anywhere while he was in the bathroom and that he needed to tell me if someone did. I actually can't remember when I let him go into the men's restroom by himself.

A.

We have a pretty open household (as did my mother, and her mother). And, due to the layout of our house, most of the "action" tends to happen in our master bathroom. My son is 6.5 and frankly, is the only one who cares about dressing with the door closed. Although he is still more than willing to take a bath with his 3 year old sister. Our rule is that if you want privacy, close the door, but locking is not OK. If the door is closed, knock. Regular conversations take place when I'm in the shower and dressing with no issues. When questions arise, we discuss them openly, frankly and non-confrontationally.

Public bathrooms... no-can-do on the men's room if Dad isn't there (unless it's a onesie). I'm not sure when that will change, but I'm fairly certain my son would be too freaked out to go in there alone at this age anyway.

I let my on shower with me until the day he looked at me and asked why I had a "beard" down there....As for public restrooms...if we are in a strange city, I will still take him into the ladies with me...he is ten years old...if we are at Wal-mart I will let him go by himself...but this has only been for the last two years...I read too many crime stories...I get paranoid...but I am getting better...he now takes his sister to the restroom for us...using the ladies room of course.
Hope this helps

This might be a good time to focus on the word 'modesty.' That way it is more about learning a new word and using the word than it is about being secret stuff that might draw more attention. We use this word in our house and it works out well for us.

Hi S.. I have a wonderful 5 year old son! I grow up with 5 sisters i never understood this situation...But learned really fast that there is a big difference…especially when my son asked me one day in the shower "mom did it hurt when your TT fell off" I knew it was time to take showers with Daddy. But it is hard you don’t want him to feel that something is wrong, or make it uncomfortable. I'm very honest and open about everything in a way he understands... with no baby talk. He is VERY mature for his age, that’s what you need to consider when talking to him. Other wise you can always day you need mommy time. That always works to prolong detailed convos. until ready.
I will say that... I would be against sending him in the public restrooms alone...unless it is a single toilet and your standing at the door. In this day and time you cant trust anyone when it comes to the safty of or children! Continue to take him in with you...just no peeking under stalls. lol! Hope this was helpful!!

BEST OF LUCK...
A.

Hi S.,

I don't like it when my 5 1/2 year old sees me undress, or in the shower, but it is the reality in our house right now (especially since I have two younger ones that he is always around). It would be too difficult to try to prevent him from seeing me naked right now. Evenutally, I will have to deal with it in a year or two. I feel that no permanant damage will occur from this, especially since I don't make a big deal of it. Once in a while, he says, "Mommy, I can see your boobs!" I try to turn around, but don't always succeed. Whatever! I am just not worried about it.

As far as public bathrooms - he INSISTS on going in the men's room all by himself because, "I'm a big 5 1/2 year old," he says! I wait right outside the men's room for him. He feels very grown up and is so proud of himself, it's very cute!

I agree with you that if you don't make a big deal out of it, then your child won't either. I truly believe that no permanent damage will be done!

I have 2 sons. The oldest is 5 and he still comes in the bathroom when I'm in the shower and when I'm using the restroom. He doesn't think a thing of it, so I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. I do tell him I need privacy sometimes when I use the restroom(that time of the month) and he just closes the door and leaves. We give him privacy when he asks and he will do the same for my husband and I when we ask. As far as going to a public restroom alone, not anytime soon. I'm not sure when I'll feel comfortable with that, but he'll probably want to go before I feel ok with it. Fortunately, I have a younger son and they can go together, so neither is ever alone.

I have 3 little angels, 2 boys and a girl. When my oldest son, he's 10, was around 5 I started teaching him about personal space and the "trick" of knocking on a closed door to make sure it was an empty room or just being respectful to the person in the room. I've taught my 7 yr old daughter and 6 yr old son the same thing. Its been an easier transition for the younger 2 b/c of the older one already in that mode.

Hi S.,
You have really received LOTS of great advice!
I have 2 boys that are currently 3 and 4.5 and like other Moms, I tell them that I need privacy and they should respect that but they still run in when I am showering and using the potty and I just remind them to be courteous.

In public restrooms, my husband hates to take them even if he is with us because the Men’s room is always filthy so they typically come with me at the same time. I find two stalls next to each other and send my oldest in and tell him to lock the door (he is not allowed to come out until his brother and I have finished) I come outside his door and tell him I am ready for him then we all wash up together.

I do ask my 3 year old to turn around and face the door for privacy when I am using the potty, this started when I grabbed some TP and he shouted, “why do you need to wipe… I didn’t hear you POOP”!

Good Luck… this is a fun one :-)
E.

Tough question, and I'll be reading the responses too! For me, my son is 7. He still goes in the woman's bathroom with me most of the time, but it depends on where we are. If I need to go to the restroom, he usually comes in with me and waits by the main door. If he's the only one that needs to go, it depends on the place. We were recently at a Burger King and I just stood outside the door waiting for him. But, we were also at the airport and we used the family restroom once and he waited inside the woman's restroom door the other time. Mostly, is a safety thing. Men's rooms don't have stall doors and I don't want some perv showing himself to my son while he's in there! At home, I now tell him that I'm in the bathroom, to wait, or I ask them to knock if my door is closed before entering. I read somewhere they will eventually become embarrased and self consious, and that's when you should stop allowing them around while you change. For us, it was just recently. I try to turn my back, or step into the closet if he's around while I'm changing, but I don't make a big deal about it other than saying you are just getting to old for that, so you need to knock. My 9 year old daughter is totally at the point where she wants privacy and doesn't want anyone in there while she changes. On another note, we recently went clothes shopping, and he came into the dressing room with my daughter and I and we just asked him to turn his head or close his eyes while she changed. Worked fine.

i would have probably stopped when the child started walking. second sending him into a men's restroom... um? that's a hard call... five years of age. and time him. monitor who's going in/out of the bathroom.

good luck.

I have always been okay with my son seeing his father undress but he has never seen me. Now that I have a daughter, I'm not sure how I feel. I still have emotional scars from seeing my mother by accident at a young age! :) As far as the public restrooms, my son is NINE and I STILL make him come into the ladies room if I at all question the men's room for his safety. If it is an empty place, I'm not as concerned and will wait outside, but it only takes one episode to scar them for life and I'm sure there are sick men just waiting in there for little boys. This world has become so scary to live in as parents. :( Sad. God bless!

I think once you start feeling uncomfortable. I really don't think it is that big of deal until then. We have two girls and that is how I feel about their dad. My 2 1/2 year really could care less; so do we. However, I was taking a trip with my parents (their grandparents); and we were all sharing a suite. One of my girls was only 18 months at the time and my dad felt uncomfortable undressing in front of her. I think it is different for everyone! Good luck!

S.,
Little boys these days seem to become aware of the differences at an earlier age than they used to. I wouldn't let it go on much past Kindergarten age. Some kids may innocently share details about their mommies that you probably wouldn't want his whole class to know. I'm a preschool teacher, and you wouldn't believe some of the thimgs the kids share about their parents. As for the sudden need for closed/locked doors, I would explain to your son about privacy. These days, fortunately, many public restrooms also have a "family" restroom that you can take your son into. Otherwise,I would wait until he at least 7 or 8 before sending him in alone.

My boys are 4 and 5 years old. About 6 months ago I decided they didn't need to be in the bathroom with girls anymore when they looked at me and asked "Mommy, what happened to your pee pee?" Now they know that going potty is a private thing for girls and boys. I don't make a huge deal about it but, instead, treat it as more of a personal space issue. There have only been a couple of times when I have allowed them to go in the boy's bathroom when we are out & about. And that has been only when I am completely comfortable with the cleanliness of the bathroom and I am sure there isn't anyone else in the men's bathroom. Otherwise they come with me into the women's bathroom.

From birth to 2 yrs-no problem
2 yrs and up-no way no how

I was wondering the same thing! My son is 5 now and I think I will start with the private space thing. It was bothering my husband more than it was me but after all the responses, I think I can see his point a little better!
Thank you!

in our house, we dress and undress in private. showers and baths are private things. post bath/shower, i require them to wear towels from the bathroom to the bedrooms. yes we shut the doors when we use the toliet and no you definitely don't use the toliet when someone is showering. use the other one or just hold it. they get that mom is different than them/dad. but as the only female, i don't like seeing naked male bodies everywhere, thus there are rules of privacy. the whole public thing is tricky but i started letting the oldest boy going solo about the age of 7.

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