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When Is a Boy Too Old to Go into Women's Bathrooms/dressing Rooms Etc?

My son just turned 5 and is a very big and tall kid, I am sure most people think he is at least 8 or 9. I don't feel like he is old enough to go alone in the Men's Bathroom (unless I am standing and waiting outside the door). I still bring him with me when I need to go to the bathroom. I worry about pedophiles and just the fact he can't completely button and unbutton his own pants. What are other mother's opinions? I do bring him to a changing stall in a dressing room and have talked with him about it being rude to look at others while they are getting dressed. I just don't want others to feel uncomfortable.

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Thanks everyone I am glad to hear there are a lot of mothers that feel the same way. When I said dressing room I was more specifically talking about a rec center, I guess it would be more appropriate to take him to a changing stall and be quick. I don't feel comfortable with him showering and changing alone in a locker room and unfortunately my husband works a lot so he usually isn't around. As for going to the men's room alone he begs me to go in there because he wants to use the urinal, I will make sure to use all of your tips. Especially checking for another exit, which is something I have never thought about and that really scares me. Thanks for all your input I feel much better!

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Hi. Although i have a daughter, I hope my answer will help you. I recently went shopping while my daughter was in school and when I went into the restroom, there was a mom with hr 3 boys ranging from, my guess, ages 4 to 7. I didn't think twice about the fact that this woman brought her 3 sons into the lades restroom. Do what YOU feel is necessary for you child. If you're not comfortable with him alone in the mans bathroom, then by all means, be MY GUEST and use the ladies room. One can't be too careful now a days! Best of luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful

Most of the rules say six years old. That is for places like the YMCA, if I am remembering right.

When you go to someplace public, stand outside of the bathroom to wait for him. I NEVER felt bad pushing the door open and calling to him to ask he was okay. He knew to answer me. It puts every single man in that bathroom on notice that I was there and meant business.

At some point he's just too old for you to take in the ladies room. So do what I'm suggesting and don't worry about decorum. He has to use a public facility at some point without you.

D.

2 moms found this helpful

At five years old, I think he should be going into the bathroom with you. My son is 8. About one year ago, he started to feel uncomfortable going into the girls bathroom. He now goes into the men's bathroom. Before he goes in I remind him not to talk to anyone, go to the bathroom and come right out. I wait outside the bathroom. We have never had any issues.

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Making strangers (that you will never see again) uncomfortable vs. something terrible happening to your child. Kind of a no-brainer to me.

5 moms found this helpful

My boys are 8 and soon to be 11. I take them to the family bathroom. Sorry - I don't trust public bathrooms. Especially since that kid got raped and murdered in the public bathroom in Southern California years ago - that stuck with me...the murderer walked RIGHT PAST THE MOM!!! SICKO!!

They go into dressing rooms with me if I don't have a friend or their father with me.

I don't care if people don't like it. they can kiss my butt...my children are my Gifts from God - I'm not going to just leave them to the wolves...if people think it's rude, too bad!

3 moms found this helpful

I was denied access to a women's dressing room at a local store because I had my 5-yr-old son with me. The employee who wouldn't let me use the dressing room told me that the other women would be uncomfortable with a boy seeing them naked. I told her that he was only 5, and asked how many women were parading around naked in a public dressing room. She then "offered" to watch my son while I tried my clothes on (I'm so sure).
I really kept my patience with her, but thought about suing the store (irrational!), and then settled for talking to her manager. The employee was fired, but I still don't shop there. The safety of my children comes first, always!

3 moms found this helpful

Little boys in the ladies room is fine if they dont try to look under stalls, yack about how it stinks and so on. Teaching them to be quiet because it's the "WOMENS" restroom and he's only coming in because you think he's too little to go to the mens alone is what he needs to know so he will maintain while in there. I've had some pretty bad little boy incidents in the ladies room before--if your son is too old to go into the stall with you while YOU pee then he's too old to be in the ladies room. My sons went to the mens room at age 4 and 5, they were a tag team, that helped for me as I waited outside the door for them. The actual chances of a pedafile waiting in that bathroom for your child are slim to none really.

3 moms found this helpful

My 10yr old & 7 yr old still come with me if I am not with my husband. I personally know of a 12yr old boy that was raped in a bathroom, that's more than enough for me!

3 moms found this helpful

Most of the rules say six years old. That is for places like the YMCA, if I am remembering right.

When you go to someplace public, stand outside of the bathroom to wait for him. I NEVER felt bad pushing the door open and calling to him to ask he was okay. He knew to answer me. It puts every single man in that bathroom on notice that I was there and meant business.

At some point he's just too old for you to take in the ladies room. So do what I'm suggesting and don't worry about decorum. He has to use a public facility at some point without you.

D.

2 moms found this helpful

My oldest son is 5 and I still take him into the bathroom/dressing room. I don't care what people think--his safety is #1. Most bathrooms/dressing rooms are private, so people do their "business" behind closed doors. So, it's not like your son is staring at a woman changing clothes. Do it as long as you feel comfortable.

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Are you aware how quick a pedophile can violate a boy?? I will tell you 2 incidents that happened here in my town-
A 12 year old boy was molested in a movie theater bathroom while his mother waited right outside the door.
An 8 year old was raped in the bathroom of the library by an 18 year old. This library was in the municipal building ALONG WITH THE POLICE STATION! Thankfully video cameras were there and they were able to ID the guy and arrest him.
Both of these true stories indicate that a pedophile does not care where or when or who is around. There is no safe time to send your child in the men's room alone. Take him into the womens with you or use the family bathroom. It is uncomfortable when they get older-I get that. Personally I would rather be safe than sorry.

2 moms found this helpful

My son is 5 as well and he will be coming into the restroom with me for a while. I don't care who tells me he's not welcome or my protective nature is irrational!!! I LOVE my children more than anything in this world and it's my job to make sure they are safe 100% of the time. Not 99% of the time and we'll just cross our fingures on the 1% of the time he's not being watched because I had to use the restroom!

2 moms found this helpful

As long as he is in the stall or booth with you, it's none of their damn business how old he is.

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Hi. Although i have a daughter, I hope my answer will help you. I recently went shopping while my daughter was in school and when I went into the restroom, there was a mom with hr 3 boys ranging from, my guess, ages 4 to 7. I didn't think twice about the fact that this woman brought her 3 sons into the lades restroom. Do what YOU feel is necessary for you child. If you're not comfortable with him alone in the mans bathroom, then by all means, be MY GUEST and use the ladies room. One can't be too careful now a days! Best of luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful

I only have a 4 year old, but my feelings are as long as YOU feel UNCOMFORTABLE with him going into the mens room by himself (within reason, of course - like 10 is old enough to take care of business LOL). Seriously, all ladies rooms have doors - men's rooms don't always have doors, etc. Unless your kid is crawling under the ladies room doors to look at women when they pee, I don't understand why women get uncomfortable.

2 moms found this helpful

Your son's safety comes first. As long as he is respectful and quiet while he is in the ladies room then I see no issue to continue bringing him in. My SIL's son has autism and he is 9. He looks like he is 13. He can not go by himself. As long as he is going in to do his business then leaving with no drama, don't worry about it!

2 moms found this helpful

There is nothing wrong with bringing him in with you. His size may make it more of an issue from other women's perspectives, but he is still just 5 and a little boy, and his large size doesn't make him any less innocent. Some women may be uncomfortable for a few minutes, but they will get on with their lives. If they give looks, just smile and say that he just turned 5 and leave it at that. As other posters said, they are behind a door. Teach your son proper manners, such as to mind his own business and not make comments out loud. There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about bringing him with you.

2 moms found this helpful

My son just turned 7 and he comes in public restrooms with me. I don't care what people think. He's still just a little boy and I would never send him in a men's bathroom at the mall or other public places. The other day I was in Old Navy and was trying on a top. I had him sit right outside the door. There were lots of sales people around and I talked to him through the door so I knew he was ok. That was the first time I'd done that, but coming in with me would have been uncomfortable for him. Do what you think is best for your son and don't worry about pleasing others.

2 moms found this helpful

At five years old, I think he should be going into the bathroom with you. My son is 8. About one year ago, he started to feel uncomfortable going into the girls bathroom. He now goes into the men's bathroom. Before he goes in I remind him not to talk to anyone, go to the bathroom and come right out. I wait outside the bathroom. We have never had any issues.

2 moms found this helpful

My problem is not him going in the mens room alone but leaving him outside while I go into the bathroom. Lots of places now have a family restroom instead of just the normal womens/mens rooms.

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I think it's ok for bathrooms and dressing rooms as long as there's privacy for the female occupants. We've had instances at our local pool where a mom brings in a couple of sons, I'm guessing ages 5 and 8, and has them change & shower in the common area, and doesn't seem to care that they are wide-eyed and openly staring at adult women also changing & showering. My girls were uncomfortable to change with them staring at them, so they use the bathrooms to change. I'm sympathetic to the problem b/c my husband has similar issues when he's out with our girls, but I wish there was more concern for privacy in our case.

1 mom found this helpful

Personally it doesn't bother me at all and I never really think about the age of the child. Even if I was a little uncomfortable, I'd want the child to be safe and would either wait if it bothered me that much or get over it. It's a very valid question, My friends who have boys grapple with this.

1 mom found this helpful

Of course you can bring him with you! For as long as you feel comfortable. I would never even think twice about seeing someones son in the womans bathroom. Its not like women pee out in the open like men do. There is no way my 5 y/o would go into a bathroom by himself. I dont think women get offended by this, they should understand.

I completely DISAGREE with Jane M. Pedophiles are irrational??? Are you kidding me???? And she didnt say anything about helping him go to the bathroom, shes worried about his safety, as you should be.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 4.5 and very tall as well.. I don't plan to let him go to the bathroom by himself anytime soon or wait outside the dressing... My guess would be 6 or 7 before he can do that..

1 mom found this helpful

Depends. I have a big 3 year old. He LOVES to go by himself. If he's wearing elastic pants he can do himself, and if I check the restroom for him to make sure no one is in there, and if I stand right outside he door, I let him. He thinks urinals are the COOLEST. If another man walks in, I yell in right away, OK, come out! So the guy knows I'm right there. Otherwise I still bring him with me into the ladies room. If other ladies are in there, I make sure he doesn't look under any stalls. I'll be looking at your responses to see what the "cut off" is for boys in the bathroom! I mean, in the end, you can't leave him outside alone while you go, so that settles it. No one is holding it against you that he's there.

1 mom found this helpful

i still take BOTH my boys in with me unless dad is around. they are almost 3 and 6 1/2. i will continue to take them with me. i have had some dirty looks and one worker say sorry they can't go in with you. i told her i wanted to talk to her manager. the problem was taken care of. i REFUSE to send my 6 yr old into a public bathroom by himself unless its at school during school hours. i was molested as a child and so i have REAL fears of this. my boys will go into the ladies room/changing room with me till they around 10-13 yrs old. i make them face the wall as it is if i am changing/trying on clothes and when i pee. usually my 6 yr old stands out side my stall or goes into a stall by himself right next to mine.

1 mom found this helpful

I had the hardest time with this transition. I brought my son in the womens room until he was almost 8. I made sure to tell him we will be quick in and out. No messing around just in case there were others in there that may feel uncomfortable. The dressing room deal was easier for me as I just had him sit just inside the fitting room and I would take the first room closest to him.
I totally understand your worry and believe me it took me a long time to be ok with this. My son is 12 and I still worry. HTH

1 mom found this helpful

When my son was younger, I would wait with him outside of the bathroom until a father/son came along, or a dad that had a little girl that needed to use the bathroom and ask him if he would take him in. I would take his daughter, and he would take my son. I have also asked male workers to go in with him, or if I sent him in there alone, would ask another gentleman going in, to check on him. I do not think that it is inappropriate to take your child in the bathroom with you until YOU are comfortable with him going by himself (of course, if the guy is 14, we may have an issue!) Your fears are NOT irrational. Trust your gut instinct!

1 mom found this helpful

As a woman and going into the restroom or changing room, I have never been bothered by it, as long as the child is quite and respectful. I mean, everyone uses a room with a door, so it shouldn't matter. I have a daughter, so I won't be going through that, but if I did, I keep him w/ me until he was 15! JK!!!! I totally understand and can sympathize. I think if a mother has her child with her, no matter what age, then there must be a reason, and I don't pass judgement or feel bothered by it. Good question :)

1 mom found this helpful

You should ABSOLUTELY take him with you! My son is 5.5, and tall for his age. I take him with me every time and could give a flying fig what anyone else thinks. I plan on taking him with me into the bathroom for a long time to come. There are creeps that just hang out in the men's bathrooms waiting for kids.

@ Mommy B, since you have daughters and not sons, you can't understand where we're coming from. Standing outside the men's room so you can call in to your son doesn't do much good when there are pedophiles waiting in there. I'm not taking any chances. Most moms would make sure their sons are respectful in the ladies room. My son has NEVER tried to peek under the stall or through the stall door at anyone. He goes in the stall with me and is never left unattended.

1 mom found this helpful

I think this depends sometimes on the layout of the bathrooms and the changing areas (not clear if you mean changing rooms in clothing stores or changing stalls at recreation centers/swimming pools). There may be places where it's easy for him to stand in an out-of-the-way place inside the ladies' room, not just so women feel more comfortable with him there but so HE feels more comfortable and like he's not in anyone's way. As for changing stalls, if they have the kind of doors where you can see his feet beneath them, I'd have him stand outside the stall while you change -- you know he's there; you can see part of him.

As a mom with a daughter, my concern was always young girls having to go into men's rooms with dads when out with just dad. Women's rooms at least have all-enclosed stalls, so boys can go into them and not see anything much but feet, but mens' rooms have urinals -- everything's out in the open. We never had to deal with it but I wonder what single dads and dads taking small girls on outings do about that, when the girls are still too young to be left in a hallway alone.

FYI, in our area the question is moot in rec center pool dressing rooms. Children six and older are required to use their own gender's dressing room. I haven't seen anyone enforcing this, actually, and I doubt any attendant wants to tell some parent their kid has to go, but that's the rule and it's clearly posted at the doors of both men's and women's rooms. So once a boy is six or more, he would have to use the men's dressing room. This is why family dressing and showering rooms are the best bet, but on busy weekends it can take ages to get into one of those.

1 mom found this helpful

According to the rules at the YMCA bathroom, it's 5. My son is 5 and it terrifies me to think that he would go to the men's unaccompanied by me! Not just b/c of crime and predators (who should be castrated by the way), but he still has a hard time getting on those toilets and reaching the sinks to wash his hands... public bathrooms are freaking disgusting.

I have a stepson, 8, and three sons 5,4, and 2. I still take ALL of them to the bathroom with me. On RARE occasion, I will let them go into the men's restroom together (minus the 2 y/o) while I am standing right outside the door. I do try to go to family restrooms whenever possible, which luckily, most stores/malls do have. I really don't care if women in the restroom are uncomfortable when they see my boys in the restroom with me. I care more about their safety than dirty looks from strangers. I don't go in fitting rooms often while they are with me, but when I do, they go in with me- I always just wait for the handicapped room.

I think the rule at our YMCA is 8.

I agree, if he can't button his own pants then taking you into the ladies room should be fine. However you could always help him when he comes out.

As far as pedophiles...seriously, it's just to pee! It's not like your dropping him off and leaving him there.

And as for changing rooms, I agree that as long as he's not running around, peeking under the dividers, it's just fine. However, by age 5 I'd try not to be changing in front of my child anymore. If you're going shopping for yourself, leave him at home. It was right about this age 4 or 5 that my husband felt the same way about our girls coming into our bedroom when we were changing. It has little to do with them seeing us, but more about teaching them about privacy in general, knocking before you enter a room and giving people "alone time" in the bathroom.

Our rec center's age limit for boys in the ladies locker room is 4. Four years old?!!! Give me a break. Little boys aren't even in kindergarten at that age and can hardly pee or change out of a wet swimsuit at that age. Yes, there are two heavily used family rooms, and we use them when we can. But you can bet we're in the ladies locker room together if needed..

I think that teaching kids, regardless of gender- appropriate manners is the key.

If you are taking boys (or girls) into a ladies dressing room with you... please teach them not to gawk. When I was 6-7 I remember a mom brought her boys who looked older than me in the rec center dressing room with her and they were "peeking". I was old ENOUGH to be uncomfortable about it! had he had them dress in the "stall" area of the dressing room, and then go shower off in the showers quickly- or made sure they averted their eyes- I don't think there would have been any issue.

I never think twice about well behaved kids in a restroom. If dad or another trusted man is around, sure- i think they should take them to the "men's" once they are 5 or 6... but if mom is alone out with the kids- i totally understand. I wouldn't let my daughter go into the w omen's restroom alone either!!! (when she is that age)

teach your kids good manners, and be mindful of others. Use a family restroom when they are available and use common sense. Also... if your kids are in middle school and are "healthy"... It is time for them to use the appropriate restroom on their own--- i mean.... there IS a point and you won't be there to hold their hands in college... LOL!

But, before that... judge your child's readiness, based on your intuition and circumstances!

Good Luck Moms!
-M.

On the other hand

My son is almost 8 and I still make him go in the bathroom with me. It would be different if the stalls had no doors and he could see women using the restroom. I care more about my son's safety than some woman's unwarranted discomfort. I will never see them again so they can glare. Although I have yet to have someone look at me strangely. I think most women understand the obvious fears. I don't take him in the dressing rooms because there is a greater chance someone will walk out without clothes on. I just don't take him when I am shopping for my clothes or I buy stuff and take back the things that don't fit. I think a 5 yo is still young enough to go in a dressing room, though.

He's probably big enough to go into the bathroom by himself. When he goes to kindergarten no one will be helping him button and unbutton. Your fears of pedophiles are irrational. Not to say that I don't worry about my daughter when she goes into a public bathroom by herself, but 99.###-###-####% of men go into a public bathroom to go to the bathroom, that's it. Have your husband teach your son "public restroom" manners, and tell your son you'll be waiting right by the door.

As for changing rooms, that's just more of a pain because presumably you want to see how the clothes fit. I think that until he's big enough to really have his own opinion on the clothes (8 or 9) he can come into a dressing room with you.

Good luck.

edited to add:

Yes, the fear is irrational. Not because it never happens, because it does, and I wouldn't want to belittle that experience, but because we worry about the wrong things when it comes to protecting our kids. Your son is in a much more dangerous position, statistically, left alone with an uncle than he is in a public bathroom. It's also more dangerous for him to be alone with a peer, a family friend, a church official. My guess is that you don't worry about these things nearly as much. I'm not saying that you should _start_ worrying about all of those situations, but recognize that worrying about every single "what if" is not the healthiest way to parent, for you or your child.

This website has some good statistics. It's from Canada, but the numbers are comparable in the US. http://www.littlewarriors.ca/about_sexual_abuse/statistic...

Again, if you want to bring your child into the ladies room, I think that's fine. I never understand people who get upset about that in the first place. I mean, I'm shut in a stall - what's anyone going to see? But I think you shouldn't feel like every public bathroom is a looming danger.

I don't think your fears are irrational (I wish I could say they were...but in this day and age...). Just a thought...because we can't protect them from every pedophile/wierdo/etc....I have really tried to teach my kids personal safety. Sometimes I'll wait outside when my 7 year old daughter or 5 year old son uses the restroom because i have the younger children in the cart...etc (I do check the bathrooms first, make sure they're empty and there's only one exit). I stand by the door...but I also tell them if someone EVER does anything to make them uncomfortable, be it a comment, an action, WHATEVER...either get out immediately...or yell for me...and I don't care...men's bathroom...whatever...my child yells for me...I'm there. I think it's really important that they know that sometimes it's ok to yell and scream.

I'm going to continue watching this thread tho' - we have a rec center here that has a sign saying 5 and up need to go to their own genders changing room...normally I'm a very 'rule following' parent...but when I'm there without my husband...I just don't feel good about sending my just-turned-5 year old to go shower and change all by himself in a men's dressing room. I've taught him etiquette and there's rarely anyone else there when we go to the indoor pool in the middle of the day - but, every time I see the sign, I feel bad about breaking the 'rule'.

Yeah, I'm thinking about 10. I took my sons in with me FOREVER because I'm phobic about stuff like that. If women didn't like it, too bad. There was a horror story in CA a few years ago about a little boy getting killed in a public restroom.

At five you are fine! I say by about age 9 they can go it alone. I have boys and they will be coming in with me for a long time!!!

I caught a boy peeking under the stalls at my daughter who was 5 at the time, in a female public restroom. He didn't need help from mom (she was busing doing make-up in the mirror), and appeared to be about 8. I tried to talk to mom, but they didn't speak English... I've also felt uncomfortable from boys looking through the cracks at my daughters (I don't like it when women do it, too..)

YES, crimes can happen in bathrooms to boys when they are by themselves, but if I had a boy that age (older than 7, I'd say- younger is fine) I'd wait RIGHT outside the bathroom, and call in to check if he's okay if he takes a while. There are SOOOO many other places that crimes can happen too, BTW

If you HAVE to bring a boy into a women's bathroom, i HOPE he is respectful and not a peeping Tom! Also, EVERY child should learn manners in the bathroom, boys OR girls- I can't stand it when children look under a stall to see if someone's in there, the moms do it too! Have some decency!

Check to see if the rec center has a family changing room. I don't blame you one bit and if I had boys I would deal with the stares from ppl too! 5 is just too young to into a bathroom/locker room alone. Really 8 or 9 probably is too. Sad that's what today's world has come to!

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