“Children of Any Age Should Not Go Into Public Restrooms Alone”

These tips from HealthyChildren.org for when a child can go to a public restroom are not just hilarious and ridiculous, they are also insane, starting with this one:

​The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children feels that children of any age should not be permitted to use public restrooms alone.

Any age? Why? Simply to keep Americans so scared of stranger danger that they keep supporting the Center? The website goes on to gift us with:

My Public Restroom Survival Guide

  • Never send a child into a public restroom alone. Ask for assistance from a security guard or employee of the establishment, if needed. Don’t accept help from well-meaning strangers who offer it, often as they walk out of the restroom.
  • Instruct your child to use a private bathroom stall rather than a urinal. Also, instruct them never to talk to a stranger in a bathroom. If some stranger talks to them, they should know to respond that they are not allowed to talk to strangers in bathrooms.
  • Avoid restrooms with more than one entrance. You might need to go to a different area to find a smaller restroom with only one entrance. Then, try to make eye contact with anyone who enters the restroom while your child is inside.
  • Stand in the door and talk to your child throughout their time in the bathroom. Call out things like, “Is anyone else in the bathroom?” “Remember, we don’t talk to strangers in bathrooms.” “Do you need help?” “Did you wash your hands?” “Can you reach the soap?”

Don’t be afraid that you might embarrass your child by talking to them at the doorway. At very least, your child won’t forget to wash their hands.

All of this is based on….what? Anything?

When I interviewed Amy Baxter, a pediatrician who did her fellowship in child sexual abuse, she estimated she’d seen seen about 500 victims, which is very sad. But how many of them were violated in a public restroom? “None,” she says. Dr. Baxter queried two close colleagues and found that one of them had indeed seen a single instance of this crime. Terrible. Another — a leader in the field — had not. Ever.

So it’s not that bathrooms are 100% safe. Nothing is. But since most child sex abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, the worst-case restroom scenario is rare indeed. And yet we are being urged to protect our kids from it like never before.

What’s more: While we’re desperately trying to make a very unlikely event very unlikely, we are doing something else that actually is harmful. We’re teaching our children that they are in constant danger.

What else is new?

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The room of doom?

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79 Responses to “Children of Any Age Should Not Go Into Public Restrooms Alone”

  1. Snow June 12, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    Of any age? Does that include my 15 year old, 6 foot tall son? 😮

  2. Theresa June 12, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    I think if my mom followed me in the bathroom I would felt like a baby. it one thing if the kid truly need help but if not and they’re old enough for school let them go on their own. That how I feel no matter what the worrywarts say.

  3. BL June 12, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    “All of this is based on….what? Anything?”

    The answer:

    “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children *FEELS* that children of any age should not be permitted to use public restrooms alone.”

    Feelings. Just feelings. It makes them feel good.

  4. VinceL June 12, 2017 at 8:37 am #

    You have to be kidding me? This is from The Onion, right?

  5. Ken Hagler June 12, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    I wonder how long it will be before these people start telling parents to put their teenagers in diapers so they never have to enter a public restroom at all.

  6. SKL June 12, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    What exactly does “a child of any age” mean?

    I mean, I went to college when I was 16, does that mean I had to hold it until I came home? Or should my mommy have come to college with me?

    I guess if you’re traveling alone across the country, you would have to have an amazingly strong bladder. :/

  7. Beth June 12, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    Because of the constant harping of the possible dangers, I ‘feel’ that I am in more harm from those judging my actions and calling the authorities.
    t57@gmail.com
    Children being raised now will turn into adults that can not cope. When these children turn 18 and parents send them out, the parents then will see the error of their ways.

  8. mer June 12, 2017 at 9:32 am #

    “Children of any age”
    What exactly does that mean? Fed law says a “child” can stay on parental health insurance until they are 26.
    Sounds like it’s geared towards boys, unless they’ve started putting urinals in the “little girls room” for the biological males that “feel like a woman”.

  9. Crazy Cat Lady June 12, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    “Avoid restrooms with more than one entrance. You might need to go to a different area to find a smaller restroom with only one entrance.”

    This person never had to wrangle three kids when potty training one or two at the same time. When you need a bathroom….you need the CLOSEST one. With two boys and one girl, they went into separate bathrooms.

    But, the way to fix this is the same as the fix for avoiding having trans people in the bathroom. The fix is to have single door bathrooms that can be used by any gender or family groups if needed. No stalls, no chance of “peeking” doors open to a common area. Also more expensive to do, so people don’t want to “think of the children!” and do this. (Some rest stops as we went across country were this way.)

  10. Ater June 12, 2017 at 9:48 am #

    The first time I sent my 4 year old into the bathroom alone, I’ll admit I was pretty nervous. He came out a minute later, and said “a man helped me wash my hands.” Then pointed at someone leaving the bathroom. I thanked him for helping and we went on our way. I’m no longer afraid of sending him into the bathroom alone.

    I posted about it on some forum and most of the responses were I should have either cut in the long line in the women’s restroom for him or gone I to the men’s room for him. I guess being an asshole is an acceptable solution to a non issue.

  11. David N. Brown June 12, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    Reminded by free association of a convenience store ad from years ago: “We believe that restrooms should be clean, well lit and free of danger…” Also, the bit about using a restroom w/ one exit makes some sense; aparf from anything else, emerging in a different area unexpectedly could be confusing for a kid. However, I can only think of one business I’ve been to regularly that has a setup like this.

  12. Anna June 12, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    Are we sure this isn’t from The Onion?

    ‘Stand in the door and talk to your child throughout their time in the bathroom. Call out things like, “Is anyone else in the bathroom?” “Remember, we don’t talk to strangers in bathrooms.” “Do you need help?” “Did you wash your hands?” “Can you reach the soap?”’

    Teens and pre-teens must really enjoy that.

  13. Dienne June 12, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Oh good, a post about kids in bathrooms and already we have two comments about trans people in bathrooms. I swear some people are way too obsessed about what’s between other people’s legs. Why are you looking anyway???

  14. Margaret Moon June 12, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    My twelve-year-old, six feet tall, 160 lb.grandson would have a laughing fit at the idea of his grandma accompanying him into the bathroom. I’m giggling about it too.

  15. Workshop June 12, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Heh.
    I’m more worried about my son not hitting the urinal than anything else.

  16. BL June 12, 2017 at 10:34 am #

    This thread really makes me appreciate port-a-potties.

  17. Dawn June 12, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    Just remember that even at age 40 you should be escorted to the restroom by a parent. You are, after all, still SOMEONE’S child.

  18. Jen June 12, 2017 at 10:54 am #

    @dienne-
    If people can’t talk about things, they will always be taboo subjects. I didn’t read either of the two comments to be offensive or derogatory. The first noted that it was odd advice since it seems geared only at men’s rooms. The other commenter simply noted somewhat inelegantly that many establishments (for a variety of reasons) have moved towards the societal trend of having single bathrooms/changing rooms.

    those commenters were making observations, your tone was sarcastic and defensive — if you want to educate people, shaming them won’t make them receptive to your point of view. But then, maybe that wasn’t what you were going for since your other recent comments on this forum have been decidedly hostile as well. Most people aren’t bad or trying to hurt each others feelings intentionally.

    Let’s all assume that we all share a common interest by virtue of the fact that we are on this forum — if you are looking to be offended, you will find offense everywhere.

  19. Dienne June 12, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    Jen,

    mer said “for the biological males that “feel like a woman””. That’s offensive because trans women don’t simply “feel like” women. They *are* women. Incidentally, I seriously doubt that any trans woman would want to use a urinal. mer’s comment was derogatory to trans people, and irrelevant to the conversation at hand.

    Crazy Cat Lady’s comment was better in terms of relevancy to the topic, but still rather derogatory in terms of “avoiding” having trans people in the bathroom. Why does anyone care? Again, what’s between anyone’s legs is the business of (a) the person him/herself, (b) his/her lover and, (c) as needed, his/her physician. No one else needs to know and, if people keep their eyes where they belong in a restroom, no one else *will* know.

  20. James Pollock June 12, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    But… but… but… there might be a transgendered person in there! How will I know unless I go in myself and check everyone? I mean, just to be safe. It’s for the kids.

  21. Barbara June 12, 2017 at 11:15 am #

    Beth’s comment “Because of the constant harping of the possible dangers, I ‘feel’ that I am in more harm from those judging my actions and calling the authorities.” is spot on and pathetic. (the truth of the comment is pathetic, not Beth) I have been, on more than one occasion visited by DCFS and the police because of some nosy pants moron. Thankfully, I am strong enough not to care because I know what the laws and regulations in my state are and I don’t fear these people. What I don’t understand is why can’t these people teach their children to be safe….as I was taught and I taught my kids. When my daughter was almost 5, she informed me she was old enough to go to the restroom by herself and knew where it was. I let her go on her own (I followed nearby so she didn’t get lost on the way but out of her sightline). She made it just fine and when she came out she told me there were 3 other people in there and they were all women. This is because I taught her to be aware of her surroundings. She also felt quite empowered. She is almost 13 now and she is confident, secure and a go-getter. She laughs at helicopter parents and so do I all the while lamenting how their children will have a tough time in life. (okay, done ranting…lol)

  22. Dienne June 12, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    Incidentally, Jen, I don’t want to educate people. People need to educate themselves. I shouldn’t need to educate anyone about not making derogatory comments, especially about already marginalized groups.

  23. SKL June 12, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    I just had a funny thought. How long before somebody starts marketing products to protect school-aged kids in the opposite sex bathroom? How about special glasses to fog their vision, and privacy strips to tape over the door cracks so nobody can peek in? I smell a marketing opportunity ….

  24. Roselyn June 12, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    I wouldn’t mock these rules in anyway. Just in 2015 there was a little boy who was assaulted by a homeless man inside of a public bathroom at a McDonalds. As a mom of a boy, no, I would not allow him to enter a public bathroom alone until he is old enough.

    http://crimefeed.com/2015/08/homeless-man-arrested-alleged-sexual-assault-6-year-old-boy-mcdonalds-bathroom/

  25. Jetsanna June 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    But please make sure your kids know what they are doing.

    I have a close friend who was at a very busy restaurant with his kids, 2 and 5. The 5 year old boy needed to use the restroom. He figured it was time to let the kid go by himself instead of trying to wrangle the two year old.

    5 minutes…10 minutes…he’s getting very nervous and asks the waiter. They had just called the cops. The kid couldn’t find the table, wouldn’t talk to “strangers” (the staff) and had gone out to wait by the car.

    The police were kind and they all had a good laugh and it’s a great family story to this day, but still.

  26. Jetsanna June 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    And Roselyn, make sure they never go outside, either:

    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/hydrant.asp

  27. Sarah June 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    Well, I read a post on a parent’s group. Someone was asking what age kids can go to the movies alone. Most said around 12 or so. One person said they did not let their kids go to the movies alone until they went to college. We are truly bordering on the absurd.

    Talk about this just disempowers people and makes them think they are helpless- they are not.

  28. John B. June 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    “Children of any age”? By legal definition, a 17-year-old is still considered a “child”. So does that mean parents need to solicit help from a security guard when their 16- or 17-year-old kid needs to use a public restroom? This includes instructing your teenage son, or daughter, not to talk to strangers in a public restroom even if the stranger says something to them, like “Hi”, “How ya do’in?” etc., etc. Does this also include standing in the doorway and talking to their 16- or 17-year-old “child” and asking them “Is anybody else in the bathroom?”, “Do you need help?”, etc., etc. (I would be embarrassed to death and would flat out tell my parents “Mom, dad, that is not acceptable!”).

    Even in this day and age, I really don’t believe there will be many parents who heed this type of ridiculous advice, thank goodness.

    Regardless, the bubble-wrap we now strap around our American youth, is getting thicker and thicker and thicker by the year.

  29. Christopher Byrne June 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    All I can think of is how humiliating this would be for a child. I can only imagine if I was 13 and my mother stood in the doorway of a men’s room at, say, Wanamaker’s (dating myself and geo locating), and shouted at me.
    What about at intermission at a Broadway show?
    I’m sorry, this is insane.

  30. Ausitn June 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    When I was in Europe, all of the bathroom stalls had full doors and there were no gaps, etc. that seem to be commonplace in the US. While they weren’t unisex, they certainly could have been with no harm. I would prefer to see that as a solution. Then you can choose to let your kids go alone, or go with them, and it doesn’t matter. All the stalls have locks and nothing is visible, this would also prevent any issues of people questioning what is between your legs. :/

  31. Paul Shannon June 12, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

    thank god my parents never put these crazy ideas in my head. for a parent to think that in a crowded bathroom men would just watch while some guy was sexually molesting a kid, clearly indicates the parent is in severe need of therapy.

  32. Resident Iconoclast June 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    For some time, I’ve felt the flames of this War on Men, whereby any male within 50 feet of any child must be a pedophile. Since the day care scandals of the 1980’s, I don’t talk to unaccompanied children and, if I find myself in a restroom with a child, I get the hell out of there as quickly as I can.

    There are nutcases all over (if there weren’t, Lenore wouldn’t have a thousand of these stories to publish about “danger”) who literally will imagine that you–any of you at that point when you least expect it–tried to molest their child. And the authorities publish this crap, so they’ll believe the nutjob who gets it started.

    This kind of thing has started some of the most notorious witch hunt prosecutions in U.S. history: The day care scandals in California and Massachusetts, the witch hunts in Wenatchee, Washington and in Bakersfield, California, and dozens more.

    Let’s face a few facts. We’re at war with religious dictatorships around the world, and fancy ourselves to be this wonderful democracy with personal freedoms. But we have our own Ayatollahs, and they’re looking for you, buddy, to make your life a living hell for something you never even dreamed of doing.

  33. Jen June 12, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    @dienne
    People don’t know what they don’t know. Many other causes would have been dead in the water (desegregation, women’s right to vote, gay rights would have been dead in the water if everyone sat around waiting for people to educate themselves.

  34. lightbright June 12, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m sorry to say it, but this story underscores why I don’t generally turn to pediatricians for parenting advice. Accomplishments such as fabulous MCAT scores and finishing one’s residency at a designer label hospital are admirable but don’t render people experts in the complicated minefield of parenting.

    @Snow, I think your son 6′ teenage son should NEVER go alone into a men’s room. He needs to accompany you to the ladies’ room instead . . . to keep you safe. 😉

  35. Roger the Shrubber June 12, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    ‘Quit talking, Mom! I can’t get going with you talking to me!’

  36. gap.runner June 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    When I was out alone with my son, who refused to go into women’s WCs after about age 5, I would often ask a man going in if he would not mind keeping an eye on my son in the WC. I usually tried to find someone who was going in with a kid, but any man was fine in a pinch. They were all agreeable to helping out. I was more concerned about my son playing around or being able to reach the sink to wash his hands than about molestation. Send me to Bad Parent School!

    On another note, it seems like people in the States also have the same attitude about women in men’s public toilets. They think that something terrible will happen to a woman in a men’s public toilet. About 30 years ago my husband and I were driving from Utah to California and had to stop off for gas and to use the toilet. There was a huge line for the women’s WC and nobody waiting for the men’s. My husband went in to take care of business. When he came out, he suggested that I use the men’s toilet (it was a single occupancy WC that locked) and he gave me the key. I did my business, then came out. The women in line for the women’s toilet looked at me and gave me gasps of horror for using the men’s toilet. Maybe it was because I still looked like a teenager at the time. Hey, no waiting and we were back on the road quickly.

    Fast forward to May 2016 in Munich to see a different attitude in Europe. I was running the Wings for Life World Run and had to use the toilet. There was a huge line for the women’s WC. The woman who I was with, who was from Italy, said, “Let’s go in the men’s WC,” so we did. The line for the men’s stalls was much shorter. The men who were using the urinals and ones waiting for the stalls didn’t say anything about women being there. We were all there for the same purpose. In fact, several other women joined us in line. Nobody got molested or got gasps of disapproval. It is the same for letting little boys use the men’s toilets over here.

  37. Michelle June 12, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

    There are so many reasons to end bathroom segregation and move to a system with private, individual stalls so it doesn’t matter if the person in the next stall is a man, a woman, a man who physically appears to be a woman, a person who doesn’t identify as either, a father with his small daughter, or a small child of any gender going to the bathroom alone for the first time.

    How much easier would it be if I (a mom) could walk into the bathroom with my just potty-trained son, he goes in one stall, I go in another, and then I help him reach the sink to wash his hands? How much more secure would we be letting our young children go to the bathroom alone if they had actual privacy in their stall? (And if you didn’t feel safe in a particular bathroom, you could just go in, too.) Not to mention ending the tradition of the office building built before women were in the workplace, with two men’s rooms per floor and one women’s bathroom on the 6th floor only, or the concert venue with a line halfway around the building for the women’s bathroom, and the men’s room is no waiting.

  38. Ariel June 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    Everyone is someone’s child…so NO ONE can go to the bathroom while out! :O

  39. lollipoplover June 12, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

    Haha! I actually sent this to Lenore as a friend posted it on Facebook and I remarked about my child of 16 would be harmed mentally if I tried talking to him through the door while he used a men’s room.

    I think modern-day restrooms have become the Boogie Man among paranoid parents. This urban-legend type paranoia can also cause kids to fear public restrooms and withhold. It happened to our neighbor- his mom had him so in fear of using the bathrooms when out in public that when he started going to school, he wouldn’t go. Ever. He ran off the bus crying most days because he was about to shit his pants. He eventually got anal fissures and had to be treated by a doctor.

    When a so-called *expert* makes a definitive statement like “never send your child into a public restroom alone” it makes a simple trip to the bathroom like a visit to a war zone and validates the extremely paranoid!

  40. Another Katie June 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    My gut feeling is that a typical school-aged child should be able to handle going into a public bathroom by themselves. Those suggestions are just BAD. Let’s face it, these “rules” are tailored mainly to mothers of boys (because Eek! A Male!). How incredibly embarrassing it must be to be a tween or teen boy and have Mommy standing outside hollering questions to you in order to make sure that big bad adult men aren’t doing something unspeakable inside. And it’s not even remotely the job of employees or security guards to assist your child in the bathroom.

    Maybe 6 months ago our 6 year old needed to use the bathroom while we were at a local restaurant. I was there with both kids while my husband was at work, our food had just arrived, and I didn’t want to haul our preschooler in with me and leave our table unattended. I had full view of the bathroom entrance from our table and the restaurant wasn’t busy, so I told her to go by herself. Predictably, she was fine and felt proud that she had gone alone. As silly as it may sound, it increased her sense of self-confidence and self-reliance so we let her go on her own now.

    For our younger child, whichever parent takes her into a public bathroom takes her into the appropriate one for their gender – I take her to the ladies’ room, my husband takes her to the men’s room. My dear mother (a helicopter parent from before the term was coined) was horrified that my husband would take our 3 year old daughter into a public men’s room. He responded that if the environment was that sketchy or the bathroom was so dirty that he hesitated to bring his own child into the men’s room, that’s a pretty clear sign that it’s not a good place for a small child to be!

  41. hineata June 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

    This has to be an American thing.I began sending the boy into the public toilets when he was three or four because that’s normal around here.

    My dad had a thing about predators in male public bathrooms, but he grew up in an area where there were lots of men with shellshock and other serious mental health disorders (which didn’t make them pedophiles but did make them seem scary to young kids at times). Also his father had been ‘around the bush’ a few times, and was full of the scariest stories, mostly because something bad will have happened to someone somewhere at some stage, and when you hang out in crazy places you’ll see crazy things eventually ☺. I generally ignored all of the crazy – NZ by the 70s was a pretty mild place. Still is ☺.

  42. Crystal June 12, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    If my mom had stood in the bathroom doorway and asked me as a teenager — the age group, mind you, in which I got MARRIED, and to another teenager! — if I could reach the soap, it wouldn’t have “embarrassed” me, it would have convinced to run far, far away and never return to such lunacy.

  43. Andrea D. June 12, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    People who bring they’re non-toddler boys into the ladies room must have read these guidelines.

  44. Dean June 12, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    At an older, well-established Boy Scout camp, each troop campsite had a multi-stall toilet facility. Nowadays, it is not uncommon that troop adults might be women. The “problem” was solved by a revolving sign, “M” or spin it to “W”, and knock before entering. Works just fine.

  45. HypocrisyEverywhere June 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    The “Fear Industry” is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Lets keep paying into it, like the good little sheeple we are.

  46. David N. Brown June 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    Building on an earlier comment, this “advice” inadvertently highlights a major weak point of “scarelore”: The majority of public restrooms (VAST in my personal experience) only have one entrance/exit, which leaves a hypothetical abductor or abuser far more vulnerable than the kids. Parents should be more concerned with bullying and more physical abuse by other kids and teens, which is a major component in the criminal cases that have cropped up.

  47. Harrow June 12, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

    Dear Dr. Berchelmann:

    I read with interest your advice that children of any age should not use the bathroom alone. I am 76 years old. My mother is still alive. She is 98 years old. She lives in another city 90 miles away.

    My question is: how long should I hold it before I call and ask her to make such a long trip?

    Anxiously awaiting,
    Harrow.

  48. Dingbat June 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    @Jetsanna

    So true! It’s sad, isn’t it? Parents used to understand that bad things happened to people but you couldn’t let the fear of it happening rule your life, or base all of your decisions around that fear.

    I find it completely messed up that encouraging parents to behave as if they have postpartum anxiety/OCD became the gold standard.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time worried about friends who work 12-14 hour shifts in hospitals who kicked their husbands out of bed and put the kids in it to “keep them safe” (such an odd statement to make about great guys who loved their family but I believe it was based on irrational fear over non custodial abductions) and woke up every hour on the hour for 8-12 years straight to make sure their children were still breathing and that no one had taken them. It’s perfectly natural to see parents be hyper vigilant during the SIDS months and all new parents have anxiety but if you are still terrified your perfectly healthy child will suddenly stop breathing in their sleep for years on end… you are not in a good place. Same with a co worker who let 1 kidnapping case at a sleepover in the 1990s, before she even had her girls, dictate her life. They are now 15 & 17 and have never been allowed to attend a sleep over. She let other fears of home abductions prevent them from walking across their own yard to check their mail until they were 14 & 16. She had spent 16 years playing the same movie in her mind about her kids being abducted from their own yard, and didn’t even truly allow the oldest to walk before she drove. She tried to prohibit her from driving as well, until her husband stepped in. She paced the saying… I can’t do this! I can’t handle this! This is the worst thing I have ever been through…. Her child growing up and gaining independence/responsibility is the worst thing she’s been through? Fear and anxiety when they first start driving… perfectly natural. Many parents feel it. Trying to actively prevent it from happening … not natural. She’s never learned to dismiss the anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Parents have been encouraged to embrace and perpetuate it for years on end.

    http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english

    Postpartum Anxiety & OCD

    You may have postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:

    Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.

    You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby. Checking on the baby.

    You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.

    You may be having disturbing thoughts. Thoughts that you’ve never had before. Scary thoughts that make you wonder whether you aren’t the person you thought you were. They fly into your head unwanted and you know they aren’t right, that this isn’t the real you, but they terrify you and they won’t go away. These thoughts may start with the words “What if …”

    You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of scary thoughts or worries. You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.

    You may feel the need to check things constantly. Did I lock the door? Did I lock the car? Did I turn off the oven? Is the baby breathing?

    You may be having physical symptoms like stomach cramps or headaches, shakiness or nausea. You might even have panic attacks.

    You feel like a captive animal, pacing back and forth in a cage. Restless. On edge.

    You can’t eat. You have no appetite.

    You’re having trouble sleeping. You are so, so tired, but you can’t sleep.

    You feel a sense of dread, like something terrible is going to happen.

    You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
    You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.

    You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.

  49. bmommyx2 June 12, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    if it’s not a crazy busy bathroom I will send both boys (10 & 6) or just my oldest by themselves, but if it’s busy they just go with me. Not because I am worried, but because they are uncomfortable going by themselves & my youngest can get crazy & will touch everything & be in there all day & still not go & clean up after.

  50. Dingbat June 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

    Based on a recent mommy blog I just read we are in for a real treat from new Millennial mom’s urging other parents to not say, “shew! you stink!” when changing your babies diapers because it will traumatize and scar them for life. It had a long list of perfectly fine, harmless behaviors that will somehow cripple them forever more.

    Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick! When Boomers said they wanted to “normalize” mental illness they were not kidding. Address and create an environment where people can talk and get help… fantastic! I’m all for it, considering many can easily be helped/treated. Wonderful. “Normalize” I’m not sure about.

  51. donald June 12, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

    Mental abuse hides in many forms. For example, if you tell a person that they’re helpless and stupid every day for 10 years, that will affect them. It’s irrelevant if meanness was your intention or not, it’s still damaging.

    Some parents give a continual message to their children of, You can’t be trusted to look after yourself because:
    1. You’re too stupid
    2. You’re to frail
    3. Your only a pet that is unable to do anything without supervision.

    THIS IS DAMAGING!

    Imagine a mom yelling in the bathroom to her son, “Remember, we don’t talk to strangers in bathrooms.” She’s teaching her child to insult people and tell them all that they are all potential child rapist or axe murders. Imagine the social skills that he learns.

    In 20 years time, what do you think is more likely to happen.

    “Thank you so much mom for being so protective and keeping me safe”
    or
    “Thanks a hell of a lot for turning me into a freak”!

  52. donald June 12, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

    Remember the parenting magazine with the ridiculous list that we saw several years ago?

    “When visiting a garden avoid dressing you child in brightly colored clothes. They are more likely to attract bees.”

    This ‘helpful’ advice is only designed to fill pages. Only a moron would actually use the advice. This is the same for the list above.

  53. LJ June 12, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    The folks giving this advice are so focused on very unlikely events (abuse in a public bathroom and kidnapping) that they are forgetting the very likely outcome of creating anxious children. How are kids supposed to feel safe, secure and competent in the world if they have their parents truly hovering over them as they try to complete one of the most basic of human functions.

  54. Anna June 12, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

    LJ: “The folks giving this advice are so focused on very unlikely events (abuse in a public bathroom and kidnapping) that they are forgetting the very likely outcome of creating anxious children.”

    Yes, and also the likelihood (or rather certainty) of creating resentful, sullen children, who want nothing more than to get as far away as possible from parents who humiliate them like this.

  55. M June 12, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    @ Donald, I must have missed that one. I ALWAYS dressed my kids in bright colors, all the easily to spot them when they are at the playground with a dozen other kids. Not because I was afraid anything would happen to them, it just made them easier to find if I needed them for anything.

    I also let them use the bathroom by themselves. The are now 17 and 19, and somehow managed to survive unscathed.

  56. Dingbat June 12, 2017 at 8:40 pm #

    Donald, I’m 100% going with… thanks a hell of a lot for turning me into a freak! With a dash of SOMEONE KEEP ME SAFE FOREVER!

    I suspect it is a large part of the reason why psychologists and therapists on college campuses have been noticing for some time that students can no longer handle/have mental breakdowns over things that did not make other generations flinch. Their anxiety levels are through the roof and if your parents are hyper protective and anxious it’s going to rub off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at cancerous parenting sites in horror. It’s nothing but fear and terror. I see so many mom’s trying to figure out how to take a shower without taking their eyes off their child for a second. Many skip showers all together because they don’t feel comfortable jumping in the shower as their baby takes a nap. Most find ways to keep their child in the bathroom with them. There are mom’s that still lock their 10 year old in the bathroom with them when they take a shower because they just know someone will break in and take their child as soon as they look away. It’s hysteria. There is no other way to describe it and it comes from other parents, the media, stupid lists in parenting magazines, so called experts, supposedly respected and well noted org’s for children, lawmakers, professionals, etc… Most of them parents consumed by fear as well.

    Professors and psychologists at colleges have remarked on freshman students coming to campus and demanding safety and protection first thing. It’s something not seen in older generations who were excited for freedom and independence. What they demand is often intrusive, irrational, humanly impossible, persecutory and in violation of others rights. All those other students out to get and hurt them! They want someone to remove every obstacle so they never have to feel a twinge of discomfort. That’s not coming from parents alone but it’s part of it.

    The fact that colleges are staffed with an excess of shrinks who want to put puppy rooms, coloring books, bubbles and play-doh in colleges to appease the tender and triggered adult students says a lot. They perpetuate a lot of this behavior. If given the choice to attend a lecture or say you’re triggered to go pet puppies and color at 18, which one will you choose? Especially when you’ve been locked in a bathroom with a hysterical womb up until that point.

  57. Jennifer C June 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    *Stand in the door and talk to your child throughout their time in the bathroom. Call out things like, “Is anyone else in the bathroom?” “Remember, we don’t talk to strangers in bathrooms.” “Do you need help?” “Did you wash your hands?” “Can you reach the soap?*

    *Don’t be afraid that you might embarrass your child by talking to them at the doorway. At very least, your child won’t forget to wash their hands.*

    Is the challenge to see how long it takes for your offspring to disown you?

  58. Dingbat June 12, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    P.S- Not that dads are immune, just in context with the stories on parenting sites.

    Reading comments from mothers on those sites makes me feel awful… physically sick. It would truly be awful to feel that level of danger in your home 24-7, and for years on end. My mom took 4 years with me and then went back to work. I was the only one out of 3 that she got to stay at home with for a bit, so this was not a huge issue, but I can’t even imigine her feeling like she couldn’t take a shower when I was 4 because someone would kidnap me. She would leave the bathroom door unlocked in case I needed anything. I was standing on a chair washing dishes and knives, and over a hot stove cooking scrambled eggs at 4.

    Danger! Danger!

  59. frank June 12, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

    So anyone else see the irony is finding a ‘worker’ or ‘security guard’ to take your youngster into the restroom.

    Seriously, they are just as likely as a random customer in the bathroom to be a pervert and NOW you’ve basically given them permission to ‘help’ / supervise your child. Geez, what could go wrong.

    This whole thing is beyond stupid, like a child is going to get assaulted in busy restroom with other ‘guardians’ around. The only place this makes ANY sense to me is like in a park, etc that might be known for sketchy activity.

  60. David N. Brown June 12, 2017 at 11:09 pm #

    A story from my experience: To this day, I only use stalls. No phobias or trauma. I just couldn’t quite work out how we were supposed to use urinals when I was young, and I decided I liked having TP on hand if I felt the need to clean up. In hindsight, I think I ended up catching some harassment over this ( bad already), which anybody considering advice should bear in mind.

  61. Crazy Cat Lady June 13, 2017 at 12:25 am #

    For the record, I am not against Trans people. I have a friend who is, and my kids’ have a couple of kids at their school with whom they are friends. I believe that when they go into a bathroom that they intend to do the same thing as the rest of us – use the toilet and get out.

    But…I live in a conservative area, and have had friends and teachers who feel this is an issue. My response to them is to get the layout of the bathrooms changed, then it becomes a non-issue. Interestingly, none of them seem to take up on this cause, as their cause is not actually about allowing people to use the bathroom, their cause is about someone who is dressing differently than they “think” they should.

    I brought this up because like the issue with people who “might” want to peep, it solves this problem of “Strangers in the Bathroom.” Having a single door and room also solves the “Crazy mother barging into the men’s room with her son while men are hastily trying to zip up and not expose themselves.” Like this article seems to want to advocate if the child does not answer in the appropriate time of probably less than a second.

  62. sexhysteria June 13, 2017 at 1:14 am #

    There should be armed guards in all public bathrooms, with a “shoot to kill” order in effect. After all, you can never be too careful.

  63. Cam1st June 13, 2017 at 2:19 am #

    And another consequence of this kind of paranoia is the (I find) really uncomfortable practice of bringing boys who are not all that young into women’s locker rooms.

    Sure, if your son is so young that he needs help with navigating a locker room, or dressing himself, etc. then he has to come in with Mom. But give me a break from boys who are clearly too old to be hanging with half-dressed, or undressed, or showering women in a woman’s locker room. Must we be stared at everywhere we go? Can a woman not relax even in a locker room?

    I really can’t stand this, and find it quite a violation!

  64. Travis June 13, 2017 at 2:54 am #

    bmommyx2: “if it’s not a crazy busy bathroom I will send both boys (10 & 6) or just my oldest by themselves, but if it’s busy they just go with me.”
    I’m sorry, but 10 year olds should go to the bathroom of the gender they identify with unless it’s an emergency. It’s just awkward for the children if they see someone their age in there. I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught dead in the lady’s room when I was that age, because what if one of my classmates came in?

    That said, why are they uncomfortable going by themselves? Did somebody scare them?

    Sexhisteria: “There should be armed guards in all public bathrooms, with a “shoot to kill” order in effect. After all, you can never be too careful.”
    I feel like all the fathers going in with their children would be shot. Just because we’re men with children.

    That said, I have no idea what I would have done if my mom had yelled at me from outside the bathroom when I was 13, or hey, even 10. I do know I would have been embarrassed enough not to talk to her for a couple days after that, though. Maybe look for another exit on purpose so I wouldn’t have to deal with her. My brother is in the military. Imagine if she had yelled at him from out the bathroom when he was 13, or 15.

    I had two adopted boys, and with the first there was never a problem. He had been through a lot before the adoption, and at six he was already extremely independent: cut his own meat, bathed himself, could go to the store, and could definitely go to the public bathroom by himself.
    My second boy is transgender, but he didn’t voice this until after a few months after we had been living together, so instead I usually waited outside the women’s bathroom waiting for my kid, and got many dirty looks, as if I had been walking right in there and peering under stall doors. After a haircut and a wardrobe change, he only went to the women’s room a couple times and finally begged me to accompany him for his first trip to the men’s room. Because, of course, he’s not a girl and he was growing too old to be scared of going into the correct bathroom. He’s turning 9 in September. Once he got over that anxiety people seem to put over molesters in bathrooms, he was perfectly fine.

    What I wonder is why people don’t make this much fuss over molesters in women’s bathrooms. There’s more than way way to molest a person, if we’re going into this.

  65. donald June 13, 2017 at 4:26 am #

    In 1920, a 9-month-old was shown several things including a rabbit, dog, monkey, rat, cotton wool, and a mask. (booth with and without a beard) the infant was not afraid of any of this. Later under laboratory conditions, he was allowed to play with the little white rat.

    The infant was enjoying his furry friend. Then the person conducting the experiment would cause a loud BANG by striking a steel bar. This made the infant cry. This was repeated many times. The infant learned to be frightened of all furry things because of the repeated experiment with the fuzzy rat. Little Albert was frightened of cotton as well someone wearing a coat made from fur!

    This is a true story and would be considered as child abuse. It’s unethical to teach children undue fear. However, some parents think that the more fear they can pump into their child, the better parent they are.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Albert_experiment

  66. elizabeth June 13, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    I once had to use the mens room because it was an emergency and the womens was full. I also saw two extremely opposite things within three days of each other. One was a mom sending her 3-4 year old boy into the bathroom alone. The other was a mom taking her 9-10 year old into the womens with her. The former made me feel happy. The latter, i gritted my teeth at. And the latter child didnt seem embarrassed, so im guessing he doesnt know he has the right as a human to be comfortable. Just send your school-age child into the appropriate gender restroom by themselves (unless, of course, they have a disability and need extra help). It isnt that hard a concept to grasp.

  67. Crazy Cat Lady June 13, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Face palm over this one. http://www.tri-cityherald.com/latest-news/article155821149.html Basically, Seattle has said that any single stall bathroom can be used by anyone regardless of gender or identity. Transgender man went to use the “family” bathroom, but was denied because he didn’t have kids.

    It is a SINGLE stall….no other kids in it….Just him. But this idea that kids can’t go to the bathroom alone has gotten to stupid heights.

  68. pentamom June 13, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    Roselyn, you wouldn’t mock rules telling you not to allow 17 year olds ever to use the bathroom alone because in the last two years, one two-year-old out of 75 million kids in the U.S. was harmed in a McDonald’s bathroom?

    Okay, then, you don’t have the mock them. The rest of us will go back to enjoying the mockery.

  69. pentamom June 13, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    bmommyx2 you should seriously work on teaching your boys how to take care of themselves efficiently in a bathroom and that there’s nothing to be afraid of if they use caution. The privacy of the women’s bathroom should not be invaded because your boys are not using the bathroom in an age-appropriate fashion.

  70. SKL June 13, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    I could be wrong, but I think the reason to not let a single guy use a family bathroom is that there are limited family bathrooms, and they would rather someone who “can” use a different one do so, rather than make the families with little kids wait forever.

    I am a proponent of a single big unisex bathroom area with completely private stalls. It would solve so many problems. Of course the guys would have to find out what it’s like to be in line after 100 women when you’re in a hurry, but hey, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. 😛

    In my world travels, I’ve seen this setup many times. I really don’t see a downside.

  71. lollipoplover June 13, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    Just saw this commercial and thought it was awesome:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBpTAkveaOA

    Yes, I know it’s for toilet paper but Dad lets daughter go into the bathroom *alone* (yes, he stands casually outside) and I’ll admit, I got a little teary-eyed…know a few single dads doing an awesome job raising daughters.

  72. Jenny Islander June 13, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    @Donald: But certain clothing colors do attract bees! It isn’t all bright colors, IME, because bees often home in on ultra-violet markings on blossoms that we can’t even see–but in my part of the world, bees think that magenta, or any pinky-purple color, means flower, and they will follow you hopefully until they realize that you aren’t going to slow down.

    Still, better advice is to teach small children not to jump and swat when they see a bee–and supervise kids who are too little not to react.

  73. pentamom June 14, 2017 at 9:07 am #

    Also, it sounds like that advice was not about walking into your backyard garden, but taking kids on a trip to a botanical garden. While maybe not absolutely necessary, it could be reasonable advice to pick less vivid clothing if you’re going to spend hours closely surrounded by flowers. Why not take a simple tip that doesn’t actually cost any time or effort and might lower the chances of an unpleasant sting? It also depends on the tone: “lighter colors are better for this activity” vs. “vivid colors will bring on the DANGER of bees.”

  74. Pookie's Mom June 14, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    I do have to say that someone tried to ‘interfere’ with my now-grown daughter in a public restroom more than 30 years ago. She was frightened by the experience and to this day, I don’t let any of the children in my life go to a public restroom without supervision.
    I do like the alternative suggestions for monitoring their safety in public restrooms.
    Now have more tools for letting the fear go surrounding having to use a public restroom.

  75. Emily June 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    >>I do have to say that someone tried to ‘interfere’ with my now-grown daughter in a public restroom more than 30 years ago. She was frightened by the experience and to this day, I don’t let any of the children in my life go to a public restroom without supervision.
    I do like the alternative suggestions for monitoring their safety in public restrooms.
    Now have more tools for letting the fear go surrounding having to use a public restroom.<<

    First off, I'm sorry that that happened to your daughter. That said, though, I have to ask; where's the cut-off for "children" in your mind? Puberty? High school? The age of majority? And, what about outings where another adult is in charge, like, say, a trip to an amusement park with a friend's family, or a field trip at summer camp? It's simply not possible to ensure that the children in your life (whether they're your children or someone else's) are NEVER unsupervised, in public bathrooms or elsewhere.

  76. A Dad June 15, 2017 at 9:26 am #

    I was in Prague in the early 1990s and visited the public men’s restroom.
    There is a bathroom attendant wondering around cleaning up while all the men are doing their business.
    She goes around mopping up after the the inattentive ones, chiding those she could get to before each leaves.
    For them, this was normal having a woman in the restroom.
    It made me uneasy at first. But after a few visits, I no longer cared.

  77. A Dad June 15, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    Also, while in the Czech Republic, I visited a wine festival in the fall.
    Off the side of the city square, were lines of port-a-potties. These were set against a retaining wall on the side of a hill.
    After the festival started, the men lined up against the wall.
    This left the port-a-potties open for the women.
    Worked for everyone.

    Also, it is not uncommon to be driving through the countryside and passing a man standing – out in the open – relieving himself.
    Here in the States, we feel we have to hide.

  78. James June 15, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    “Just in 2015 there was a little boy who was assaulted by a homeless man inside of a public bathroom at a McDonalds.”

    Let’s parse this.

    Two years ago a person was attacked in a bathroom.

    Tragic, yes. However, this puts the likelihood of this sort of event somewhere lower than 1 in 100 million (per person, per lifetime; if we go by the number of events, its closer to 1 in 100 billion). That’s a conservative estimate, assuming that 1/4 of the population of the USA is under 18 (and uses the bathroom 1,000 times in a public restroom prior to turning 18); the real numbers are likely two or three orders of magnitude less favorable to your cause.

    You are asking us to behave in a ridiculous manner (the advice for topics to discuss with your child while standing at the doorway to the stall is laughable) in order to avoid an event with a 1 in 100 million chance–at best–of occurring.

    Do you drive with kids in the car? If so, you’ve demonstrated that you’re willing to risk FAR more likely events. Why are the higher risks of driving acceptable, but vastly less likely risks of using a toilet not? And what level of risk do you consider actionable? (Remember, there is a finite probability that an asteroid will strike and kill you in the next ten minutes, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. Zero is not an acceptable answer.)

    I have never heard a coherent, much less rational, answer to these questions. Care to provide one?

  79. Papilio June 15, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    @Crystal: “If my mom had stood in the bathroom doorway and asked me as a teenager […] if I could reach the soap, […] it would have convinced to run far, far away and never return to such lunacy.”

    Hence the recommendation about avoiding restrooms with more than one entrance 😛