“I Will NOT Let My Son Go Into the Men’s Room”

It feels almost like reading, “Thou art a wicked wench!”so archaic does this ietsazrktk
Facebook comment sound
, at least to me.  Suddenly obsessive worry seems so over. Anyway, this was posted below a column of mine that ran in the Chicago Tribune:

Call me a Helicopter Mom all you want, but my child will never walk to school alone. That’s my choice for my child. He’s six and Thank Goodness for Family restrooms because I don’t trust a child going into the men’s public restroom alone either. There are bad people in this world and I am solely responsible for his well-being. Obviously, I cannot be there every second of the day, but I will be there when I can. 2015 is not the same as 1985. I’m sorry. Trust me, my child has plenty of fun and has the same experiences as others his age, but his health and safety are my priority.

I actually don’t doubt that her son has fun. It’s the idea that anyone who lets their kid walk to school or be independent does NOT prioritize their kids’ health and safety. We do.

That’s why we let them go. – L

The room of doom?

The room of doom?


, , , ,

80 Responses to “I Will NOT Let My Son Go Into the Men’s Room”

  1. Dhewco January 22, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    That’s fine, I guess, for six. What happens when he’s 8, or 10, or 13 and he has to be alone in a bathroom? He’s been raised to be terrified. If he has the ‘same experiences’ as a child his age, I (best Mr. T voice) pity this generation.

    No, it’s not 1985…reporting is more focused on the negative stories. There have always been pedophiles and there always will be. It’s a sickness, whether you believe it’s a quirk of environment or genetics.

    I don’t understand how all these parents don’t comprehend that abusers are people they trust. The stranger in the bathroom is more likely to be scared of your kid than want to harm it. I grew up in the 80s and early 90s when falsely accusing people was all the rage. I have a hard time smiling at a strange kid because I’m afraid that some over-vigilant parent will think I’m a perv. 90 percent of the time I avoid eye contact.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love kids and would love to smile or do something funny to make the kid laugh. However, I’m scared. I’m a single white man (currently) with no girl friend. I must be a sicko. LOL.

  2. Roger the Shrubber January 22, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    ‘Call me a Helicopter Mom all you want, but my child will never walk to school alone.’

    Never! As in never, ever? If she wants to argue that her child, at 6, is not mature enough to walk to school alone, fine. Does she expect that she will be walking him to his High School? Perhaps she is quoted out of context and I am reading to much into it.

    So I will assume that she does not really expect that she will be walking her 17 year-old high school senior to school and standing guard at the family bathroom door while he relieves himself. The question for most people then becomes how to decide when the time is right to trust that their children are mature and responsible enough to accomplish such mundane tasks as walking unaccompanied and using a public bathroom. But if instead of your child’s abilities you base these decisions on the belief that ‘There are bad people in this world and I am solely responsible for his well-being. Obviously, I cannot be there every second of the day, but I will be there when I can,‘ then there can be no time, no age, no level of maturity and responsibility where you will not feel that you must treat your child just as you are now, when he is 6 years old. And when he’s tweleve and you continue to treat him as he is six, no, your child will not be having fun.

    As always, feel free to treat your children as you feel is appropriate. But as Lenore says, I am not neglecting my sons’ health and safety when I choose to do things differently. In fact, for selfish reasons, I encourage you to continue to act as your child’s protector from the real world because when they reach their mid-twenties, who’s child will be the one who has a career where they are directing people, and who’s child will be the one who can’t accomplish a thing without being told what to do and how to solve every challenge?

  3. Crystal January 22, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    I would bet my life savings that her kid will never become an inventor, scientist, or any other career that requires outside-the-box thinking.

  4. Steve January 22, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Feminist? Feminazi? Or just plain crazy? Maybe all of the above…

  5. Andy January 22, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    Okay, fine.If that’s the way you choose to raise your child,it’s your business. The problem comes in when parents who believe and behave this way insist that other parents believe and behave this way. They say that we should respect and honor their parenting decisions, but when it comes to our parenting decisions,they feel they have the right to interfere. I’m not saying that the lady in the post is saying that she wants us to follow her example, but that is the tendency.

  6. Dirge January 22, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    I’ve told this story here before, but it reminds me of the time I was in a stall in a hotel. A man with 2 kids comes in. After his first kid finishes in the other stall, he went to take the kid to was his hands. The kid left to use the stall cried out “Don’t leave. Someone will take me.” It made me sad that the kid was so afraid when he father was just on the other side of a stall door. And I felt, in a round about way, accused of being an abductor.

  7. ChicagoDad January 22, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Right on Andy, good response. There have always been paranoid parents in the world, but they were in the minority, and they were either politely tolerated, or laughed off. Now they are more vocal, aggressive and seem to have the ears of the authorities.

  8. K January 22, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    My son started using the men’s room alone at 6. Not so much in super crowded places because sometimes he couldn’t find me when he came out. He’s ten now and the family restroom is sooooo embarrassing. He uses the boys locker room at the pool (big gym, it has separate locker rooms for men over 18, women over 18, boys under 18 and girls under 18, plus the family rooms that are basically a big room with a shower, sink and toilet and a locking door) and the men’s room at the other gym. Other than some giggling about a naked man with lots of pubic hair, it has been uneventful.

    I hope this mom relaxes soon. No, it’s not 1985. Thank goodness!

  9. Beth January 22, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    At six, my son doesn’t go into the men’s room alone either. I’ve started letting him go if my ten-year-old son goes with him. I prefer they be together – I think that’s a good safety rule for kids in general – stay together. We ride bikes/run to school together in the mornings, since it is often dark and even our residential streets are busy. Plus the dogs and I need the exercise. At some point I will let them ride without me – it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with them anyway. When it was just my older son in elementary school, I started letting him ride home by himself in third grade. That was when I felt he was mature enough to obey the street signs and look out for his personal safety. He has been taught – and we review from time to time – never to get near a stranger’s car, never to go anywhere with anyone other than our “safe” people, that adults don’t ask children for help with directions, etc. And most importantly, to trust his intuition over the desire to please, impress, or be polite. That’s pretty much the same kind of stuff I keep in mind for my own personal safety as a woman, to be honest. But the main safety issues – which I have found parents to be pretty slack about here in the ‘burbs – are to wear a bike helmet, use an appropriate booster or car seat, and watch young children like a hawk at the swimming pool. And being careful about adults and friends in your children’s life and how those interactions occur. Those are dangers that are much more “real” than the worst-case scenarios so many parents seem to fear.

    People also seem very eager to put their teens behind the wheel, another very prominent risk, yet these are kids who were driven less than half a mile to school as youngsters either because their parents felt it was too dangerous to walk or bike or because they were just too lazy. Either way, that is not a child who is prepared to drive, IMO. At minimum, it seems they would have a poor sense of direction. Guess that’s what the iPhone is for – our new brain.

    I guess I am sort of middle-of-the-road with all of this. I am finding myself wanting to give my kids more freedom, though, and the idea that there are parents who absolutely won’t let their children out of their – or some other adult’s – sight until they are teens seems so ridiculous to me. Maybe that’s why there is so much binge drinking these days in college – that first taste of freedom is too much for kids to handle who haven’t practiced good decision-making and acquired some street smarts.

  10. Dhewco January 22, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    The main reason I never ask directions is that I have a cell phone for that and I don’t trust people. They’ll screw with you for the heck of it. I once followed directions to the wrong part of Atlanta. I bet the adult who sent me that way had a good laugh.

  11. Dhewco January 22, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Oh, for an edit function, I meant that I’d asked for directions to Marietta…stopped at a convenience store (this was before gps cell phones) and was sent to a bad part of Atlanta. (Adult stores, liquor stores, check cashing places, etc.) If adults do that, I probably couldn’t trust a kid’s sense of direction.

  12. Amy H January 22, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    “I am solely responsible for his well-being.”

    Yes, but for how long? Eventually HE will be solely responsible for his well-being. This is fine for a 6-year-old (I guess), but she’s not doing him any favors by keeping him in the dark about how to navigate public restrooms or walk somewhere alone. This is the problem I have with helicopter parents who use phrases like “my son will never . . .” Does she really mean he will NEVER do those things? Not even at 18? 16? 12? She thinks her problem is with the “bad people” in the world, but the reality is that she is not teaching her son how to be capable, and that will make him easy prey for those same “bad people.”

  13. Coasterfreak January 22, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    About 13 years ago when my youngest was 3, we were at a restaurant and he needed to use the restroom. His 9 year old brother offered to take him, and they were gone for a LONG time. When they finally returned, the 9 year old told us that he was talking to a man in the bathroom and told him that his brother was taking forever, and the man offered to wait there with the little one and bring him back to our table when he was done. The 9 year old told him “no, thank you.” And that was that.

    To me, that seems like a fairly suspicious incident, especially since the bathrooms were right next to the front door and out of sight from the dining area. In the immediate moment, it kind of freaked us out and we praised the 9 year old for doing the right thing, but that didn’t scare us off from letting the kids use public bathrooms by themselves. I don’t remember the age at which we started letting them go in by themselves, but it was pretty young, and was usually kicked off by them announcing that they didn’t need our help any more.

  14. CrazyCatLady January 22, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Thankfully, I will not see this woman at my local gym. It has a family dressing room, but no family bathroom. And children over age 4 are not allowed in the opposite sex bathroom/changing rooms. Thank goodness for some sanity!

    My youngest son has never been stopped by anyone from going into the mens room there. When at stores, he was often stopped due to his long hair, all those mostly retired dudes we see at the gym have been around long enough to know that kids usually know which bathroom they are supposed to use.

  15. Hancock January 22, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    My six year old son started to use the men’s room by himself at the age of four, basically as soon as he learned why the men’s room is special. There’s only one way in and out, and it’s not like there’s a shortage of witnesses at and around the Walmart men’s room.

    More bothersome is when he’s out of sight. At six, I’ve told him he is free to play around the block, so long as he stays off the main road and let’s me know where he is going. I worry a bit that he may wander off to a friend’s house that I do not know, or may hike out to some area I’ve told him to stay away from. But he needs to learn judgement, and how to asses risks, and how to be a man of his word. These are not skill that are suddenly bequeathed at the age of sixteen when I hand him the keys to the car for the very first time. They are not things that I, as his mom, can teach him. Some things must be learned by experience.

    Yes, bad things can happen, but the greater risk (both to himself and those around him) lays in setting an adult with a childish and stunted mind loose on the world because I was pretending for twenty years to be a “responsible parent”, when really I was on an ego/paranoia trip.

  16. lollipoplover January 22, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    One of the links on the Facebook comments has the story of the 9 year-old in Texas who was approached in the mens room and asked to urinate on the man…yes, very creepy and gross but glad the kid resisted and reported it.
    Yet it made national news!

    It came on my Facebook local ABC news feed. I went to the comments just waiting for the golden shower jokes and R. Kelly references yet there were parents saying this is why they NEVER let their kids go to the bathroom alone until they are 18. EIGHTEEN!!!
    So they can go to war and vote, but they can’t pee and poo alone?
    One said that “holding it in” until they get home should be the strategy to avoid public bathrooms because they are so dangerous. Is severe constipation or a UTI any better?

    Others said they would avoid McDonalds from now on because they have kids. Great strategy.

    I weep for your youth.

  17. ARM January 22, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    The words “I am solely responsible for his well-being” struck me most for some reason. As a mother, I don’t really think this is true or healthy. Actually, I’m part of a larger society and so is my child, and I expect that most of my fellow-citizens have basic goodwill for my child, as I have for theirs. I’d grab somebody else’s kid from in front of a car and so would almost anybody. If I were really “solely responsible” – e.g., in a war zone or refugee camp – I suspect protecting my child would be impossible anyway.

  18. Asya January 22, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    I don’t think anyone has given me wrong directions once in my life. Why do some people have this sense of evil, doom, and gloom? That’s not normal. Anyway, wild thought: Maybe the ones who keep insisting there are creeps everywhere have had very close encounters with them? Maybe in their family? Maybe it is their spouse? Maybe it is them? They can’t exactly say it out loud, but bringing it up with strangers is a way of warning or bragging? Evil people like to take credit in subtle ways.

  19. k January 22, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Coaster freak, your story reminds me of a (less creepy) time when my husband took our two out to eat and they went to the bathroom together. They used the women’s room because my daughter, who was 6 then, was more comfortable having her brother, 8, with her.

    They were gone a long time and my husband was starting to wonder if he should go look for them when they came back. He asked what took so long and my son loudly announced that they both had to poop. Apparently they were having a fine old time talking to each other from respective stalls.

    @hancock…can your child tell time yet? I bought my son a basic sports watch for his birthday. When he’s outside playing or riding his bike or hanging out with a friend, he is either given a specific time to come home, or he checks in every half hour. So far it’s working well.

  20. Bose in St. Peter MN January 22, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    I grew up with a single mom, struggling at times to figure out how I’d become the guy I wanted to be as an adult.

    Thank goodness it was possible to work through the issues I did, in no small part, because I never doubted my capacity to operate as independently as was appropriate at whatever age.

    My third grade year was a tumultuous one for the family. One of the things I was oddly curious about for an 8-y/o was our church. I just really wanted to be there on Sunday mornings. I wanted to figure out how the services fit together, what changed and what stayed the same from week to week. It was fun going with my family, but it was even more meaningful to get myself up, dressed, and make the 6-block walk solo on the Sundays that the family stayed home.

    I had friends in my Sunday School class, and even better, adults in the congregation knew me… not just as so-and-so’s kid, but by name… because I’d had conversations with them. I knew a little about what was going on in their lives.

    Hopefully, this mom’s 6-y/o will be (or already is) rolling his eyes about the ridiculousness of only peeing within earshot of her, given that none of his friends with helipad parents (great term, right?) are getting snatched away from men’s room urinals.

  21. Donna January 22, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    “I am solely responsible for his well-being”

    I think that is the problem with helicopter parents. They view themselves as solely responsible for their child’s well-being with no acceptance the children can and should be given age-appropriate levels of responsibility for their own well-being.

    I certainly don’t expect my 9 year old to be completely responsible for her own well-being, but she is fully capable of SOME responsibility for her own well-being. She is now old enough to be responsible for getting food when she is hungry and drink when she thirsty. She can determine weather-appropriate clothing, although she still needs me to sometimes tell her what weather is anticipated (such is life when you live where it is 20 one week and 65 the next). She can safely cross a street. She can go to the bathroom alone. She can stay home alone for short periods of time and not destroy the house or kill herself. She can do these things because she has been taught a certain level of responsibility for her own well-being.

    And if she is harmed doing these things, it is not her fault or mine. It is the fault of whomever harmed her. Am I to blame if I get raped? Is my mother to blame if I get raped? Or is the rapist the sole person to be blamed? Not sure why we insist on having a different attitude toward children.

  22. kierstin January 22, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    This is exactly the problem with online comments. I can almost guarantee that this woman didnt even read the article, she just saw the headline, read a couple of other commenters opinions, and decided to share her two cents. People just like to argue, not thoughtfully discuss various sides to a situation.

  23. Dhewco January 22, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    My sister lost three of her kids due to, well, DFACs finding her neglectful. (Her house really untidy and other reasons.) They went to her mother-in-law (at the time, anyway). Two of them have developmental problems.

    I bring it up because, while they have those problems, the woman has so babied them that they’re not really capable of doing anything alone. Technically adults now, they’re not independent in any real meaningful way.

    Now, both their grandparents are really sick and expected not to make out the next few years. My sister wasn’t capable of caring for them before, how could she when they’re over 18?

    Parents’ job is to make sure kids are as mature, healthy, and able to operate alone as is possible within their limitations. It is not to simply get them to 18 and hope they swim.

    Okay, I’ve monopolized your space enough, lol…

  24. Donna January 22, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    Or maybe it is sometimes her fault that she is harmed by failing to live up to her age-appropriate responsibility for her own well-being. Maybe she crossed the street inappropriately despite knowing full well how to do it. That is how we learn.

    I still don’t see where it is MY job to monitor her 24/7 just in case she makes a choice against her own well-being. If she was taught how to properly cross the street and is mature enough to be expected to do so alone, it is not actually my fault if she chooses to dart into the street because she is trying to catch up to her friend on he other side. I can’t make her well-being my sole responsibility for my entire life. At some point, I have to let her take over that responsibility and it is better to be in little bits than all at once at 18.

  25. Puzzled January 22, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Andy – I partially disagree. I’ve commented on this before, but there seems to be two possible interpretations of the free-range idea: 1. Parents should be free to parent as they see fit. 2. Children have specific rights and it is wrong to violate those. I fall into the latter camp, so I don’t think it’s fine for a parent to parent as they see fit if it means taking away their child’s freedoms. It’s not a hard and fast line, of course, though – I think her attitude is perfectly reasonable at 6. But for how long will her son not go to the bathroom alone? Will he find himself confused and lost trying to use one when she dies?

    I’m hoping he will never walk to school because he’s not going to go to school. That’s the only reasonable answer I can give there.

  26. Rebecca January 22, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    I have always let my boys go to the bathroom by themselves couldn’t wait until they were old enough to do so! The only problems I have encountered is when a guy comes out while I am waiting for them asking does the blonde kid belong to you? if so he is in there playing with the water grrrr lmao

  27. Mike January 22, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    But she’s right!

    “2015 is not the same as 1985”

    Indeed not, after all violent (including sexual) crime rates have declined by more than 65% per capita since then.

  28. Captain America January 22, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Thanks, Mrs. Letter-Writer. I’m glad you’re keeping your kid from the men’s room. We don’t really want him there: he takes up space, doesn’t know how to dry his hands, and, worst of all, just may try to talk to you, which then generates an uncomfortable feeling in me, since all the others in the bathroom then pause to take in just what’s happening and wondering if I’m Joe Pedophile! Unpleasant hassle.

    Keep your kid in the ladies’ room. Thanks!

    Oh, Lenore, by the way, I attended a scout meeting with my son recently. Back in the 1970s, when I was a scout the only adult was the scoutmaster. At this meeting in 2015, about 75% of the room was parents. . . what a drag for parents having to be so chained to their kids that they have to deal with all these tedious kids activities. I’m sure some need me there, but I know most really don’t and that it’s likely better for my son to stand on his own two feet.

  29. BL January 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    “2015 is not the same as 1985″

    She does realize 1985 was just one year after 1984? As in George Orwell?

    “2015 is not the same as 1985″ sounds like doubleplusungood duckspeak to me.

  30. BL January 22, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    @Captain America
    “Back in the 1970s, when I was a scout the only adult was the scoutmaster.”

    I guess my troop was paranoid. We had an assistant scoutmaster as well.

  31. Jill January 22, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    Why doesn’t she just have her son fitted with a catheter bag and put a diaper on him? He’ll never have to use the men’s room again. Problem solved.

  32. Donna January 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    Captain America – We have a handful of parents who stay at troup meetings (and other activities) largely because it is too far for them to go back home. When my daughter took dance across town, I did the same. I also stay at piano because it is only a half hour lesson. I don’t know why your scout parents stayed, but it could be less need to hover and more it is just more convenient to them to stay.

  33. k January 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    My kid is a Cub Scout. The Cubs technically need to have a parent stay, but no one objected when I kept an eye on my sons best friend and walked him home after the meeting. The Boy Scouts can be dropped off and picked up later.

    The cubs also aren’t allowed to do any boating activities like kayaking. Apparently the insurance the troop carries doesn’t cover such activities.

  34. C. S. P. Schofield January 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    What a pathetic smothering bitch. If she doesn’t change, I foresee two possibilities;

    1) At some point in his teens he runs away and she never hears from him again.

    2) He doesn’t move out of her basement until the police come to get him for a gruesome series of murders.

  35. marie January 22, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    At six, a kid has been going to school for one or two years. He is already accustomed to doing his business without his mom.

  36. lollipoplover January 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    “Call me a Helicopter Mom all you want, but my child will never walk to school alone. That’s my choice for my child.”

    At what age do we start listening to our child’s choice?
    I say this as someone who has been VERY influenced by the opinions and arguments of my children.
    Walking to school *alone*- When our district cut bus service to our neighborhood, our kids (and their friends) were the ones who asked to walk and bike to school. After all, the district called them “Walkers/Bikers” so they wanted to try it. They weren’t ready so I did it with them until they got it. I guess I could have said no and driven them but they WANTED to do it. Who am I to deny them from giving it a try?

    As for toileting alone, it’s a developmental milestone. Not all kids will meet it at age 6 but many will. You do not become a Parenting Martyr by bringing your mortified 12 year-old son into the Ladies Room. These are the kids that when left on their own, finally, trash bathrooms and leave water running because it’s “fun” and have never been taught how to behave without a parent always supervising and correcting.

    As for choices, my daughter at age 8 asked to be vegetarian (among a family of carnivores and hunters). I could say it’s my “choice” to make my daughter eat meat but why not respect her choice? So we taught her to cook vegetarian. And now we eat healthier because of it…go figure.
    Life is so much easier when we respect each other’s wishes.

  37. Tiny Tim January 22, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Others have made this point, but fundamentally the question is if not at 6, then when?

    While I think most here generally agree that stranger danger concerns are overstated and certainly not worse than in the imagined utopian past when everyone grew up, I don’t think it’s crazy for a parent to feel the need to monitor a 6-year-old. Even if they’ve created that need due to excessive helicopter parenting, it takes time to undo that dynamic.

    But I just don’t get this belief that we don’t let our kids out of the house alone until they turn 16, and then we get them a driver’s license and strap a two ton death vehicle to them. Because then they’re safe.

  38. marie January 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    Not all kids will meet it at age 6 but many will.

    Unless there are some developmental issues, all will be going to the bathroom alone at six. Teachers do not follow kids into the restroom and help them wipe or wash up. Six-year-olds may not get it all done perfectly but they will get it done. Going to the restroom with other six-year-olds might be more fun than a public restroom where there are no other little kids, but nothing–nothing!–is more interesting to little kids than a public restroom. Lol.

    Lollipop, I do like the “trust your kids’ judgment” idea. I tended to wait too long before I let them do what they told me they could do. When I finally did let them walk to the park alone or send them to the store for me, I was a little sad that I hadn’t done it before because they were so proud of doing it alone.

    Once I recognized that they were capable of much more, I enjoyed letting go. THEY enjoyed me letting go.

  39. SOA January 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    My 7 year old twins prefer the men’s room. They like using the urinals if they can reach them. They are scared of flushing toilets ( I know its lame and there is no talking them out of it) so the urinals are their preference. So I let them go in alone a lot. I just stand outside and will check on them if its been awhile by propping the door an inch and calling out to them. Never been a problem.

    The only place I make them go into the women’s room with me is if I am going in there anyway then they might as well come in with me or a really crowded place where I am afraid they might get out of the bathroom before me and then wander off and I would never find them again. I do have an autism wanderer. But he is not wandering out of a bathroom so as long as I am standing in front of the door I don’t worry about it.

  40. lollipoplover January 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    @marie- I should clarify I meant using a public restroom unassisted. Yes, most 6 year-olds can toilet and wash by themselves at home and school but not all can do the public restroom thing solo. 2 out of 3 of my kids could do it at age 6. Once at a restaurant, our youngest went to use the bathroom but stopped by the hostess stand and came back with her pockets filled with mints and toothpicks. She is forever being distracted by shiny objects and we tend to shadow her more.

    I just don’t see this as a reality. At some point the kid is going to ask her to back off. She either can respect his need for independence or continue to push her own paranoid agenda.

  41. Rachel January 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Nope, it isn’t 1985. It’s safer now.

  42. Tiny Tim January 22, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    I was probably 5 or 6 when I used a public restroom and managed to “lock” myself in because I wasn’t strong enough to turn to the door handle to let myself out. Anyway, point is that while stranger danger concerns are mostly stupid, I can see that a not all 6-year-olds are keen/ready to use random public restrooms alone.

  43. Kate January 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Seeing school-aged male children in the ladies restroom with their mothers drives me insane. I feel uncomfortable and embarrassed on their behalf! A six year old is in first grade, and definitely old enough to go in the bathroom by himself. If you’re so worried, wait right outside the bathroom door. If he’s been in there too long, you can always crack the door open and holler his name.

  44. Mark Roulo January 22, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    “They’ll screw with you for the heck of it. I once followed directions to the wrong part of Atlanta. I bet the adult who sent me that way had a good laugh.

    I meant that I’d asked for directions to Marietta … stopped at a convenience store (this was before gps cell phones) and was sent to a bad part of Atlanta.”

    Or possibly the folks at the convenience store thought you were asking how to get to the Marietta-Luckie part of Atlanta rather than the city of Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta beyond Smyrna, Georgia.

    Missing the Marietta-Luckie region by one mile puts you in a not-great part of Atlanta.

  45. Ada January 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    How ironic is her statement about only using the “Family Restroom” when we know that most child abductions and molestations are committed by a family member or family friend. Irony, thy name is “Family Restroom”.

  46. MichaelF January 22, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    In 1985 and before your child was in more danger with a priest or family member than a stranger, in 2015 it’s basically anyone with male genitalia. If people want to be paranoid fine, but once you give in to the fear and let it run your life you’ll be missing out on more than you think you have gained.

    I don’t mind people complicating their lives, I just don’t want them complicating mine.

  47. hineata January 22, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Wow. …the loo in the photo is seriously cool. I love art deco, which I think this is an example of. Maybe the big question here is whether this boy is going to miss out on some stylish experience if he keeps getting taken into the girls’ loo with Mum. And the other question would be why the ladies seldom looks so good where I have to ‘go? Is there some kind of conspiracy going on here? And what would happen if I sent Boy into the mens’ with a camera. …just to check out the architecture, mind you? !

  48. hineata January 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    @Tiny Tim – I bore you all here with it periodically because it was the most funny aspect of the only European holiday our family will take together (and weren’t we blessed to have one at all!) but Midge getting busted out of the loo at Monte Cassino is still a topic of conversation, whenever we feel like teasing her for her vertical challenges. And she was 9 at the time, so should have been able to go to the ladies alone.

    Which she could, of course. She just couldn’t leave unassisted 😆. We all feel a slight sense of shame, too, in that her Maori Battalion ancestors managed to ‘liberate’ Monte Cassino’ from the Germans, and she couldn’t even liberate herself from the loo…

    Enough bathroom reminiscing….must be off to make use of one, the shower anyway 😊

  49. Andrea January 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    More than once I have been waiting for my son around age 6-7 outside a public restroom when he was taking a long time, and nice guys have come out, noticed me and assured me that he was just fine in there. What the helicopters don’t realize is that in most cases in a busy restroom there are good, decent men in there who would intervene if some dastardly bad guy tried to mess with their kid.

    When there is no family bathroom, do these moms just bring their maturing sons into the ladies room? If they are so worried about evil men in the mens room, are then not concerned about their sons and their growing sexualities experiencing too much of female bodily functions and winding up with a weird fetish? What about maturing girls in there feeling weird about boys hearing them pee in the ladies room? Do these boys then sit down to pee so they don’t splash all over the seats? Sorry if I’m getting weird here, but it seems like if you’re going to worry to such an extreme about the mens room, there is plenty to worry about bringing boys in the ladies room as well.

  50. Chuck99 January 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Two things I want to say –

    First, kids unaccompanied in restrooms probably make men more nervous than their mothers could be. I remember once, this poor kid about 6 or 7 could NOT get his pants fastened. When I was 20, I would have asked if he needed help. These days… No way, Jose.

    Second, ladies – please don’t stand right in front of the men’s room door. It might make you feel more comfortable, but it really makes us uncomfortable, when you’re standing there, judging us as we try to walk in. Stand to the side a bit, if you please.

  51. k January 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    My daughter has always been short. The bathrooms at school are kids sized, at least on the first floor where the pre-k and kindergarteners are. Until recently, there have been bathrooms where she couldn’t reach the soap or the sink faucets to wash her hands. Public bathrooms are sometimes big and noisy and crowded, or have multiple exits. Parents should be able to make this choice when their kids are ready. Not all 6 year olds are ready. However, I would hope this mom would let her child use the men’s bathroom at some point in his childhood.

  52. Jenny Islander January 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    @C.S.P. Schofield: Cool it. There’s no call for that kind of insulting language, and the hyperbole is also unnecessary.

  53. Stephanie January 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    There are kids at the middle school my oldest goes to whose parents still walk them at least up to the quad. These are families I know live a quarter to half mile or less from the school, as they’re in my neighborhood. Nice, generally safe neighborhood too, not a rough area or anything.

    My son started using men’s bathrooms when he was 5, at his own insistence. He’s a really shy kid so I was surprised he wanted to do it so young, but I respected his decision, knowing it’s mostly safe.

  54. Abigail January 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    I let my three year old (ok, he’ll be 4 in a few months) go to the bathroom alone at a few pre-approved places. Our local grocery store is the perfect baby step to using facilities like a big boy and my son is so proud to use a urinal, then pull up the step stool and wash his hands alone. I’m always milling around the hallway waiting and I never tire of that proud smile when my son triumphantly exits. So far, we’ve avoided major water play in the sink, thankfully!

  55. Dan January 22, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    As a little kid age 3-6, the only mens room I was not allowed to go into alone was at the beach. Why? Because creepy guys lurked there.

    This was Southern California in the early 60s.

    Drove me nuts even at that young age.

    By age 6, I was 100% free range and there was not stopping me from going anywhere by myself.

  56. Vanessa January 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    “2015 is not the same as 1985″

    That made me laugh, because 1985 was the year that my friend and I (freshmen in high school at the time) walked into a bathroom at the park and found a naked guy exposing himself at us. Sometimes I wonder if people who think life was so much safer 30 years ago were actually alive then.

  57. Dan January 22, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    “…adults don’t ask children for help with directions,”

    OK this made me laugh. From age 4 on, I couldn’t spend 2 minutes in our front yard (yes I was allowed in the front yard alone at age 4) without being asked for directions. In every language you can imagine.

    There was a fork in the main road about a mile away that led an endless stream of lost tourists right up our residential street.

    “Take a right at the stop sign, go 3 miles, you can’t miss it” always recited while rolling our eyes.

    LOL. That’s all we ever did as kids.

  58. D January 22, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

    As a 27-year-old who had a very over-protective mother and sheltered childhood (though not to this extent) I can attest to the idea of constantly having anxiety and being socially awkward at times due to being raised as if everything in this world is tremendously dangerous and potentially deadly.

    Am I still alive because of her caution? Yes. Can I say I am truly “living” — I don’t know.

  59. Bob January 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm #


  60. LTMG January 23, 2015 at 12:41 am #

    Helicopter parents sometimes make the most awful mistakes. A long time ago I worked part-time at a high-rise apartment building as a guard on the main door. Over time I got to recognize all of the tenants. Twin boys from a Mediterranean country arrived to attend the university in this Midwestern town. Both had shoulder length hair and full beards. Mom was very tall, taller than her grown sons, and quite heavy, maybe 220 pounds, but not fat. She pulled her iron gray hair back into a severe bun and always wore an unchanging severe expression on her face. How the three of them managed in a 1-bedroom apartment, I’ll never know. After observing their comings and goings it was quite clear that the twins were utterly dominated by their mother. What she decided is what invariably happened. One fall day I saw the three of them outside a movie theater. The mother was glancing back and forth between the board with the ticket prices and her tiny count purse. Finally, she went forth, bought three tickets, and the twins followed like ducklings in the mother’s wake. They all thought they were going to see that sci-fi adventure “Flash Gordon”. Plainly spelled out on the marquis was “Flesh Gordon”. Sadly, I could not linger to count how few minutes it would take for the mother to shoo her boys out while huffing and puffing like an angry locomotive.

  61. Beth January 23, 2015 at 7:09 am #

    “Am I still alive because of her caution? Yes”

    You would probably still be alive regardless; not all children die because they didn’t have this level of over-protectiveness around them.

    What bothers me most about the OP is the word “never” in terms of walking to school. She can’t conceive of ANY age (13? 16?)at which he might walk to school, or at which she might loosen the reins a little? Kind of sad.

  62. BL January 23, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    “You would probably still be alive regardless; not all children die because they didn’t have this level of over-protectiveness around them.”

    And he may die needlessly in the future because he never learned to operate without “protection”.

  63. Just rolling my eyes January 23, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    “2015 is not the same as 1985”
    Doesn’t she realize that in 1985 they said “1985 is not the same as 1955”, and in 1955 they said “1955 is not the same as 1925”? Does she not know that we know more every year and that it was more dangerous in the past in many cases? Crime was much higher in New York City in 1985, for example, than it is now. There were more dangerous pesticides and chemicals being dumped all over during the 1940s and 1950s than there are today. Regulation and new knowledge that these things were dangerous largely prevents this sort of thing from being as widespread. Cars are infinitely safer now than at any time in the past. Overall, things get safer as we go forward, not more dangerous. So now is the safest time for kids to be out and about. And I would not be surprised that in 2045 things will be even safer. And some ignorant parent will say “2045 is not the same as 2015”. LOL!

  64. Donna January 23, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    “Am I still alive because of her caution? Yes.”

    You are alive because only an extremely small minority of children die before adulthood, and the vast majority of them are from car accidents and non-communicable illnesses, not things which are prevented by caution unless that caution extends to never riding in a car. But I find it extremely sad that you have been convinced that surviving to age 27 is a feat requiring great caution.

  65. Emily January 23, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    The line that stuck out to me was, “I am solely responsible for [my son’s] well-being.” First of all, that wasn’t even true when the son was an infant, if the son’s father is a part of his life. By the age of six, his circle of adults should have expanded beyond his parents (and adults in his extended family), to babysitters, teachers, maybe his Little League coach or his Beaver Scout leader or whatever, and so on, unless the mother never lets her son out of her sight. Second of all…..really? Isn’t the son at least PARTIALLY responsible for his own well-being at six years old? At this age, he should be eating, dressing, and bathing independently, and also going to the bathroom alone at home and at school. He should know not to play with fire or run out into traffic, to look both ways before crossing the street, to walk instead of running on the deck when he’s at the swimming pool, and several other basic rules of health and safety that kids learn early on. As he grows up, he’ll be increasingly more responsible for his own well-being. If the mother is SOLELY RESPONSIBLE (and always will be), he’ll never learn.

  66. Roger the Shrubber January 23, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Marie:’Once I recognized that they were capable of much more, I enjoyed letting go. THEY enjoyed me letting go.’

    I have made it a point to periodically ask my sons if there is some thing they want or want to do that they have been prohibited from doing by my wife and me using the argument that they we not old or responsible enough. Despite my wife’s apprehension, my 8 year-old got a pocket knife for Christmas this year. ‘What if he cuts himself?”‘ she asks. ‘I expect that he will,’ is my reply. So far no injuries, he has free access to it but does not obsess over it or consider to use it inappropriately. He is always quick to suggest that he go get it when it is appropriate to use it. He has some things to work on regarding technique, but they can only be overcome through practice. How else can one learn to use a pocket knife unless one is allowed to use a pocket knife?

  67. SOA January 23, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    I do think part of the blame can go on restroom designers sometimes. Some of the sinks are too high for short kids to reach along with the hand soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers. A simple step stool can solve the issue but if they don’t have one, then well, you either have to go in with the kid to help them or they don’t wash their hands which is unacceptable to me.

    There has been a time or two that my boys came back out and said they could not reach the stuff and we had to go into the ladies after all together.

    Also hand dryers are the BANE of my existence. Kids with sensory issues HATE them. If it is just one my son can be cool but in a super crowded restroom with 5 hand dryers going off at once and toilets flushing constantly, forget it. Someone needs to be in there with him to help him focus and calm him down. So if it is a super loud super crowded super big restroom he has to come to the ladies with me if we don’t have a man with us to take him into the men’s room and help him. He has had flown blown panic attacks in public restrooms like that before.

    But a regular restroom with not a ton of activity, he does fine on his own in the men’s room.

    So I think some easy solutions are make sure kids can reach everything so they can go in alone and no more freaking hand dryers. Nobody likes them anyway. I hate them too. If you see a big boy in the women’s room don’t assume she is a helicopter parent or get mad, there is a chance its a special needs kid and they need to be in there.

  68. Dhewco January 23, 2015 at 10:16 am #


    You may be right, I’d never thought of that. It’s partially my fault, as well. I was following the exit numbers and street names I was given, somehow missing the rest of the signs. The person didn’t suggest the bypass around Atlanta proper. I got a good view of the stadium, somehow. LOL.

  69. Melissa January 23, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    [i]My kid is a Cub Scout. The Cubs technically need to have a parent stay, but no one objected when I kept an eye on my sons best friend and walked him home after the meeting. The Boy Scouts can be dropped off and picked up later.[/i]

    Wait, what? Your CUB scouts (as in, 8, 9, and 10 year olds?) need a parent to stay?

    My 1st year beaver scout (beavers = 5, 6, and 7 year olds, mine was actually 4 when he started because of a late birthday) gets dropped off and left for the whole hour. The only thing our troop does is insist that a parent drop off and collect beavers and cubs. I don’t go home, due to a longish drive, but I use that hour to run errands like groceries, or just hang out at the park reading a book by myself for once.

    I’d be embarrassed to sit and watch my scout through a meeting. And what about camp? My 5 year old has already done an overnight camping trip with NO PARENTS.

  70. John January 23, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    What is a mother, who is traveling alone with an 8-year-old son, To do? Sooner or later the kid will have to go to the bathroom and not all rest stops have family rooms. It should also be obvious that an 8-year-old boy is waaaay too old to be dragged into the ladies’ restroom. The solution is, you let him go the the bathroom by himself!

    People who are worried about their kid being violated in a public restroom are not using common sense. First of all, a typical public restroom, particularly at freeway rest stops, are crowded. There could be a dozen males in that restroom at one time. So the mother should ask herself, what are the odds that 12 or so men are gonna stop what they’re doing and gang rape her son? And even if there was a ravenous pedophile in that restroom who finds her son gorgeously attractive, what are the odds of him losing so much control that he starts violating her son right in front of all the other men in that restroom? And what would be the odds of not one single man in that restroom intervening in that bizarre and brazen act?

    So can we stop with the worst first thing and start using common sense here?

  71. SOA January 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Crowded restrooms are not what you need to worry about. If something like this actually did happen, it would be an empty bathroom with probably just your kid and the person waiting for them in there. They would never try it in front of a bunch of other people. They will sit in there in wait until a kid comes in alone.

    But, that is still really rare and all you have to do is if they don’t come out in a few minutes, holla in at them and check on them. If they don’t answer, barge in ready to kick some ass. People don’t like to snatch kids or molest kids around crowds. They are going to do it where they can get the kid alone. Which is why the best thing you can do it teach your kid never to go off with strangers or something they did not have permission to go off alone with out of sight.

    As the mother in the post about the older boy said, she taught her daughter not to stray from the crowded street and she obeyed and she was fine. If she had not obeyed it might not have ended well, but she was taught correctly and listened. That is your best policy. Not planning on always keeping your eye on your kid because its not possible. But you can teach them to be smart. I was taught that way and so far I have never been lead wrong because of it.

  72. Kim January 23, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    I make a lot of road trips with my boys. At some point the oldest who was then about 6 refused to use the ladies room. His younger brother was about 4 when he dug in his heels and would only use the mens. In unfamiliar places like rest stops I send them together. They look out for each other, report no hand washing incidents. One day I was waiting outside the mens room for the 6 year old and a man came out laughing. My youngest was singing “Do you Wanna Build a Snowman” at the top of his lungs while using the urinal. He brightened a pit stop for a few people.

  73. Matt in GA January 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    Reading this has given me an idea for product!!!

    I would like to create and market a line of Restroom Predators ™. These would be a series of decals that can be used to decorate urinals and stalls, featuring ridiculous caricature cartoon figures (kind of like garbage pail kids from back in the day, only way more pervy looking ).

    Young boys would find these hilarious. They would really love using the men’s room if it had Restroom Predators(tm) at every toilet.

  74. Katie January 23, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    I still take my 5yo girl to the bathroom because the doors are sometimes too heavy for her to push by herself… but I can’t imagine making a 7 year old boy (or older!) go in a women’s bathroom.

  75. Katie January 23, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    Cub scouts do not need a parent unless they are the youngest level of scout (Tiger). I think that’s first graders. Also, no scouts can ever be alone with just 1 other person. But that’s due to the fact that they *did* have issues with things happening to kids, so they instituted this set of rules.

    And if it’s a co-ed group (which can happen with the explorers/venturers) you must have at least one adult of each gender, I think. Or two? I can’t remember any more.

  76. JP Merzetti January 24, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    Helicopter parents have always existed…..here in 2015, back in 1985, and 1955, for that matter.
    They were laughed at, or ignored much of the time.
    Their kids were often pitied by schoolmates. We sort of knew it wasn’t the kids’ fault.

    But the standards of the time, long ago – made it infinitely easier to employ a parenting style that was anything but hovercraft.
    This whole idea of a “different world” is a bit of smoke and mirrors, to me.
    Other than the whole extreme exurban moonscape thing….the maddeningly child-unfriendly landscapes so many haul their kids off to live in……the biggest change is a public perception, aided and abetted by the tsunamis of media generated paranoia.

    That paranoia always has astonished me.
    I recall learning as a young highschooler – that drug induced paranoia was a thing that earned a poor schmuck pity, contempt, scorn and embarrassment.
    Good reasons to not bother with the stuff. Remarkably astute and adult responses to the problem – an excellent solution in itself.

    So why all this paranoia now? Have we sort of socially grown into some weird addiction to the stuff?
    Has too much processed food and strange chemical mixtures somehow weakened out resistance to the bogey-virus?
    (Ironically – one more vaccination to add to all the assorted mumps, measles, chicken pox and all other poxes.)

    I’ve always questioned the idea that kids are too dumb to know what’s good for them.
    They are indeed – when we keep them that way.

  77. Kristine January 26, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    A few years ago I was walking around a bookstore and happened to be near the restroom when an older gentleman approached me and asked me to check on his granddaughter in the ladies room. Apparently, she had been in there a long time and he didn’t know if she needed help. So I just walked right in, called her name and told her her grandfather asked me to come help her. I found her sitting in an open stall having just pooped. She told me she didn’t know how to wipe herself so I said, “Why don’t you go ahead and try wiping. Just do your best.” She refused, so being the nanny that I am I quickly wiped her bottom and instructed her to wash her hands. Her grandfather was very appreciative when when we came out and though I really could have done without the bottom-wiping, I found his trust refreshing and was happy to have helped.

  78. Emily January 27, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    @Kristine–You’re a better person than me. I wouldn’t have wiped a random child in a public bathroom, because A) I’m squeamish, and I’d probably throw up, thereby creating an additional mess, and B) Possible “child molestation” charges. I think the Chapters here has it right. There are traditional, gender-segregated public bathrooms in the back of the store, but there are two other bathrooms near the Starbucks, that are just like the kind you’d find in a house, minus the bathtub and shower. They’re not labelled “men” or “women” or “family” or anything, either, so they’re not even the “family” bathrooms, they’re the “anybody” bathrooms, which automatically solves the “caregiver with opposite-sex charge” problem, the “special needs” problem, and the “Which bathroom do I use if I’m transgender or non-binary?” problem.*

    *I meant “I” in the general sense–I’m a cisgender female, but I didn’t want to phrase it as “the transgender or non-binary problem,” because I don’t think it’s right to label another human being as a “problem.”

  79. Amanda Matthews February 4, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    My youngest son started refusing to go into the womens’ bathroom a few months before he turned 5. Very few of the places we go have a family restroom. So, he goes alone. We get some odd looks – admittedly, usually from women as he goes in – because many women think he is a girl; he has long curly hair and often wears pink.

    I don’t see any real reason for separate gendered bathrooms, but he is a stickler for things like that. When the “in” door was broken at a store and we had to go in via the “out” door, he nearly had a conniption.

  80. derfel cadarn February 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    The fact that the vast majority of the abuse of children, sexually or otherwise occurs in the home or by someone they know well, appears to elude this women.