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An interesting quandry.

My good friend Susan posted about an issue she had with keeping her children safe. It concerned her taking her young son into the ladies’ lockers to get changed for swimming, rather than have him use the men’s lockers unsupervised (ok I mean unguarded).

Now that’s not the issue, as far as I’m concerned it was a no-brainer…of course you protect your children at all costs, end of story. Or is it? Pamela (as usual) offered some very good advice and a personal example as to why it’s not as simple as I first thought.

So now we come to the crux of the issue. I got to thinking about it and I’m not sure if I have a double standard, an innate distrust of humanity or I’m just being stupid.

So here’s my dilemma: While I believe it to be perfectly acceptable for a woman to take her (say, 8 year old) son in to the women’s lockers, I don’t think it’s acceptable for a man to take his daughter of the same age into the men’s lockers. What do you think?

I’m not being silly, I actually want your opinion, but feel free not to contribute if you find the whole thing too weird (it’s not meant to be). Bear in mind that as I don’t have children, this is purely academic on my part. I’m just interested in finding out what the perception is.


30 Responses

  1. As a mother of one daughter and three sons I agree with you. I guess it’s because I don’t picture a woman lusting after my child but the media has made me paranoid about any man other than my daughter’s father.

    I’m sure a daughter would be safe in a locker room with her father but she might see parts that you wish she wouldn’t see quite yet or a man might see her in a light you don’t want her seen.

  2. There are places here that do not allow children eight and over into the changing room of the opposite sex.

    My youngest at the age of six has just started going into the boys changing room on his own after swimming lessons. There are only children changing and some parents are in the room. I am next door helping his friend (a girl) change or in the corridor outside the changing rooms waiting with other mums. When he was changing in the girls room he was very consious as was his friend who he has known since birth. They are much happier (and quicker) now they have been seperated.

    Where we go for family swims there are individual chaging cubicles so I’m next door to Ben chatting away as we change.

    The issue of using men’s toilets is different, he is not allowed in without his father or 14 year old brother. I remember when Dillon started to feel uncomfortable in the ladies and started using the men’s. I’d be anxious if he took a long time and even asked a stranger to check on him once.

    I think we have to be guided by our intuition, we have to allow our children to grow up and spread their wings learning independence but we also have to keep them safe.

  3. Double standards exist for almost everything in this world. Is it because society wants to view young girls as pure and virginly while young boys as “manly men”?

    I feel the same way. I don’t want my daughter (when she is older) going into the men’s locker room (even if she is with her father). And yet, I don’t think I would be as bothered having my son in the women’s room.

    So – societies double standards have already affected and ruined me – I can say I’m all about equality for ALL – when in fact I’m a hypocrite.

  4. While I understand everyone’s comments, I have a little different take.

    My brother, who’s 15 years younger than me, got stuck going into a lot of ladies rooms until he was probably about 8 since he had older sisters who, I’ll admit, were very protective of him.
    The issue of going into a men’s room never came up with my 17-years-younger-than-me sister because, well, she had big sisters. The situation is likely, however, to be faced with my daughter because my husband is a very good daddy who spends a lot of time with her. Now he is just as likely as me to change her diaper when we’re out, and he to takes her into men’s rooms when he does so. He doesn’t even let anyone look at her at this age; I know he’ll not let anyone look at her at ANY age, and he’ll be just as careful about what she sees.

    There is a part of me that would likely subscribe to the double standard but if it were not for my husband being who he is.

    Although, I’ll admit, I can see him starting to get uncomfortable with being responsible for her that way as she gets older, when faced with having her on his own, I really think he’d sooner keep her with him and keep a careful watch rather than send her into the ladies’ changing room alone.

  5. Thanks everyone who has commented so far. I’m glad to see that I’m not too weird in thinking like this.

    While I prefer to think it doesn’t exist, there’s no getting around the fact that there are some twisted, dangerous perverts out there. And while I’m prepared to feel empathy for them having to live with these abhorrent impulses, I do not feel it for anyone who acts on those impulses.

    All I can say is that I admire all of you for dedicating so much effort to raising your children.

  6. I agree with you. I’ve been flashed more than once but my husband never has. It’s a stupid example but an apt one.

    I wouldn’t want my daughter in a men’s changing room.

  7. As a mother of two daughters they never went into the men’s room.I would have felt uncomfortable if their father took them in. OK I would not have let him anyway!Our Society has way too many predators. I know that there are fathers that do need to take their daughters in to a rest room. I also know that they feel as protective as I do in most cases.

    Some places here have family rooms for the parent’s convenience. I really like that!!

  8. I’ll admit to a double standard, too, although I know women can do some horrible things as well. I think there may be more danger of a woman kidnapping a child to keep as her own rather than molesting the child, but the other happens as well. I really don’t know the statistics on this sort of thing, but the perception certainly seems to be that women are less likely to harm a child.

    I started letting my boys use the men’s restroom as soon as they were old enough to be uncomfortable following me into the women’s. That was probably around 6. I did stand outside the door or at least send the two boys in together if dh wasn’t with us. I’ve also been known to holler into the men’s restroom if I thought they were taking too long.

    There are so many dangers all of us face each day. We do the best we can to protect our children. In the end, I figure my best defense is prayer and common sense.

  9. that’s why we have family locker rooms! with large bathroom/stalls for people to go. it’s a separate with no flashing of the bit-bits to anyone.

  10. My son is now at an age where he goes to the men’s room by himself, although when we’re somewhere unfamiliar I usually stay close by the door. I guess I worry about men whether it’s my son or my daughter…which I guess is a sexist attitude. My daughter isn’t quite big enough to go alone – although she wants to – sometimes she can’t reach everything. Her dad takes her with him when we’re out sometimes. It used to be quite equal when she was small, although the older she gets the more she prefers that I take her to the ladies’ room instead.

    I’m not sure I answered the question at all. Sorry.

  11. Women’s room don’t have open area urinals… which usually means there is more privacy for mom and son to go into stall.

    For dad and daughter… not quite the same thing.

    It is a cunundrum — that only money to build separate restrooms could fix.

    now the showers at pools is going to ALOT more expensive.

  12. PS (stands for Pam Suspended)
    When I was in my early 20’s, a young boy was not only molested, but was severly injured (it is too horrid to put into print) .. by a pervert in a park close to my brothers house.

    Therefore, I have always been very tolerant of any mother with son in public toilets. Risking some prudes nasty tongue is nothing compared to …well. that horrid other stuff.

  13. I understand the double standard. I didn’t find it odd or weird that you asked the question, it made us dig deep instead of just skimming the surface with vegamite. You keep us on our toes my friend, yes you do.

    I asked my husband what he thought about this. He said he’d not allow our daughter into the mens restroom becuase there isn’t privacy in a mens restroom, everyone can see everyone’s business.

    I had never thought of this until you brought it up. I have a double standard.

  14. I agree with you. It’s quite common, and even “normal” in society for women to take their little boys into the ladies room. While I “have” seen a couple of fathers here and there taking very young girls into the men’s room, I still can’t quite accept it the same way. As one of three daughters, I have no recollection whether my father ever did this with us, or not. I’m willing to bet not. There was always a mom or grandma present to tackle such issues. If I ever have a daughter, I don’t think I’d make a habit of having the husband assist her. If they’re out alone and it’s an emergency, ok, sure… but as a regular practice… that’s just too weird. I think more chilren (boys AND girls) are accustomed to women in the mother role and little boys accompanied to the ladies room is the norm, and one that continues until the boy is old enough to take care of things on his own or starts to protest. I think mens’ bathrooms expose little girls to much more than ladies’ rooms do little boys.

  15. I actually don’t see that as a double standard at all. 97-98% of all rapes are males raping females. That is a safety concern, not a double standard. I don’t like my boys going into men’s rooms, I wouldn’t let my daughters do it.

    I always send my kids to the bathroom with at least one other person, regardless. There is safety in numbers. Some people are just plain sick and twisted and you can never predict where or when something unthinkable may happen.

    Very thought provoking. Darn internet sure is making me think a lot lately.

  16. I really wish we didn’t have to worry about this but we do. Sometimes I get so frustrated with our (humanity’s) capacity to to do harm.

  17. This an interesting question and poses a real dilemma for parents and carers. We always discussed this type of situation with male carers (back when I was a children’s day care inspector). If men are caring for girls and taking them into male changing rooms the public are much more suspicious of their motives and there’s less privacy. Taking boys into female changing rooms is seen to be much more acceptable and in the UK there are more cubicles for privacy. It’s all down to common sense and not putting children into risky situations and if that means double standards so be it.

  18. I agree with you.

    To put it simply:

    Women, especially other mothers, tend to be protective of kids.

    Men are just pigs.

    Men are easily aroused visually. Seeing a young girl in a men’s changing room or bathroom can lead to unhealthy thoughts, and that can lead to harmful actions.

    Also, innocence can be lost in a split second. All it takes is one odd look or comment or action, and a kid can be scarred for life. A child can be in and out of a bathroom in a minute, but a lot can happen in a minute.

  19. It is very interesting that you chose to do this for a post. Just yesterday as I was discussing the issue with some friends I said (and I quote) “It could be worse, I guess. I could be a father having to deal with where to take his daughter to the bathroom or locker room.” To which I got a resounding “EWWWWW!” from my friends.

    I would NEVER want my daughter to go into a men’s locker room or bathroom even with her father! I have a good friend with two daughters and her husband will NOT, under any circumstances, take them into a men’s room. He has actually driven his daughters to the nearest establishment with a private bathroom (i.e. Starbucks) when they were with him.

    So, there you have it. Funny Girl WILL NOT be entering ANY men’s restroom or locker room.



  20. Great comments on this post. Wonderful that we all have a forum for discussing issues such as this.

  21. WT: Thanks for giving me another thing to consider for the first time as a soon to be parent. . .Today I also learned that your child can be impaled through the throat with a straw. How fun, this parenting will be. ..
    I assume I will bring my brood in with me to the locker rooms.
    Right now my concern is for these poor children who see my (increasingly) huge pregnant body stripping in and out of my swimsuit. I’m always afraid that I’m offending the mums who have their kids in there by not being more discreet. . .Guess I’m not answering your question. I think I like the family change room the best.

  22. WT: Thanks for giving me another thing to consider for the first time as a soon to be parent. . .Today I also learned that your child can be impaled through the throat with a straw. How fun, this parenting will be. ..
    I assume I will bring my brood in with me to the locker rooms.
    Right now my concern is for these poor children who see my (increasingly) huge pregnant body stripping in and out of my swimsuit. I’m always afraid that I’m offending the mums who have their kids in there by not being more discreet. . .Guess I’m not answering your question. I think I like the family change room the best.

  23. I never have a problem seeing a mom with a little boy in the ladies’ room. As a mom of two girls, I can’t ever remember a time when their dad had to take them into a mens’ room, or would I have wanted him to. He asked our female friends to take the girls if I wasn’t with him. If I had had little boys, I’m not sure I would have wanted them to go into the mens’ room with their dad when they were young. I’m glad to see the “family” rooms now. It is sickening that we live in a World where our children aren’t safe to go to the potty. Now that I have grandbabies, I worry more than I did with my own.

  24. My Dad used to hold a towel around me and make me change in public.

    Do you know how many strangers have seen my ass?

  25. Parallel issue to the problem my son is facing: he wants to take the Red Cross babysitter’s course and start babysitting. And there are a ton of people out there who just have issues with a male babysitter. How do you explain to your son that even though he is amazing with children, there are people who will not hire him because he is a boy? Come to think of that, how many of *here* are comfortable hiring male babysitters? mk

  26. Yep, it is one of those double standards that is hard to decide on. But, and here is me being discriminatory, I am much more comfortable sending my daughter to the female restroom by herself than my son to a male restroom by himself.

  27. MK- I actually would have no problem with a male babysitter. My boys would love it for sure, and I know when we were babysitting age my husband would have been MUCH better at it than me.

  28. Simply Jenn…excellent. Now move to Maine so my son can babysit for you. 😀

  29. huh that is an issue. My hubs dosn’t run the girls around much they are still in diapers and he will change them in the car before taking them into the mens room. i don’t have problems with boys in the womens room simply because it has stalls and they are private. I would have problems with girls goin in the mens room because they don’t have stalls and arn’t private. as for swimming.. we go to lakes;P it’s a tricky question.. and sad that we have to ask it.

  30. No two ways about it. I’m all for the double standard here. I’d definitely not let my son go into a men’s changing room alone – and would take him with me. Yet, I wouldn’t want my daughter to go into a men’s changing room with her dad.

    I don’t see anyway round this one. But, then I’ve never been politically correct anyway.

    I have had male babysitters. But that still doesn’t make me pc – phew!

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