Parents of the world: which toilet do you use when taking your children for a bathroom break? The one that corresponds with your own sex, or with theirs?
This is the question that has recently caused some controversy online, after a mother admitted her husband takes their four year old daughter to the ladies public toilet as opposed to the men’s.
Ada Hopper sought advice on popular parenting site Mumsnet, saying she felt uncomfortable with his actions, but wasn’t sure if she was being unreasonable or not.
“Help dh [Darling Husband] and I with a disagreement please,” she wrote.
“When dd [Darling Daughter] (4) needs the loo in a public place, he takes her to the ladies’ loos. I told him women don’t like that and he should take her to the men’s loo. Aibu [am I being unreasonable] or is he?”
It’s a predicament that has many parents divided, with some stating women would be uncomfortable with a man in their bathroom, while others saying they would prefer their daughter avoid the men’s restroom (particularly with regard to the open urinals) if at all possible.
So what’s the right answer?
Again, opinions were divided.
Renowned parenting expert and author Dr Justin Coulson said it was inappropriate for an adult man to enter the ladies’ restroom, even if it is to escort his daughter.
“Perhaps Dad might think about how women using those bathrooms would feel to have him present,” Coulson told HuffPost Australia.
“While some men’s bathrooms are pretty gross, using a women’s bathroom is inappropriate except in the most unusual circumstances.”
For Jen Hamilton, founder of baby app WOTBaby, it really depends on the situation and also the age of the child.
“This really depends on where you are and what facilities are available. If your child is older and toilet trained then, if possible, it would be a better option for Dad to take his daughter to the male toilet,” she told HuffPost Australia.
“However, in saying this, some male toilets can be quite unclean and even more importantly men use urinals and this may not be appropriate for an older girl.
“In an ideal situation I think its best that both the male and female toilets are checked out first and then the decision is made. If the male toilet is clean and there are no other men using it at the time then great! If this is not an option then I think it is reasonable and appropriate for Dad to perhaps just announce his presence in the female toilets and explain why he is there.
“I would like to think most women would be okay with this. I think most people with children would be okay with this. Let’s face it, in a women’s toilet there are separate cubicles provided with locks on the doors! I would feel safe if there was a man in one helping his daughter use the toilet.
“If your child is younger and in nappies then Dad would, in some places have to use the facilities in the ladies toilet if there was no separate changing/parents room. Men’s toilets don’t have these facilities usually!”
And as for using the disabled toilet as an option? Is that OK to do? In Hamilton’s opinion, the answer is ‘absolutely’.
“If this was the only option then YES! When children need to use the toilet there is usually not a lot of time to find a toilet. If a disabled toilet was not being used and it was the only option, then after you assessed the situation and there was no one waiting to use the toilet then children can be excused for using it,” she said.
“I’m sure most people, both abled and disabled would understand this. Every decision needs to be made with the utmost respect to others and communication is very much needed in these circumstances.
“I think it’s important to be polite with everyone involved and communicate clearly why you need to use the facilities. If there is no other option then what else can you do. Also a lot of disabled toilets have nappy changing facilities so it makes sense!”