How Old Is Too Old to Potty in the Ladies' Room | Giftie Etcetera: How Old Is Too Old to Potty in the Ladies' Room

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How Old Is Too Old to Potty in the Ladies' Room

A friend of mine recently visited the Mall of the Americas AMC Theater with her 9 year old son.

She was told by an employee that he was too old to go into the ladies' restroom with her. 


Kids in the Women's Restroom; Ladies' Room sign




At first glance, I understand the policy. My child is 9 years old and he goes, by himself, into the men's room. 

As a family policy, we've decided that he can articulate any safety concerns to us, we are right outside the door, and I have another kid that I can send in to "check" on him. That seems reasonable, right?

But there are real problems with such a policy on a corporate level.

Kids 5 and Up May Be Too Young

The policy at that particular theater is that kids under 5 may go to the restroom with an opposite sex parent.

I'm imagining Loki at age 5, surrounded by grown men who are strangers to him, trying to get the toilet paper unstuck. I am picturing him having seizures and forgetting where he is, without his older brother or mom or dad to guide him out. 


No chance of a good outcome.

Actually, forget about age 5. What about now that he is older?

Kids May Have Exceptionalities That Mandate An Adult Companion

With epilepsy, Loki gets lost in familiar places. He forgets why he is there or what he is doing. He could fall and hurt himself during a seizure, or even just as a side effect of a seizure.

Even at school, he always has a bathroom buddy. The teachers escort him through the halls. 99% of the time, he doesn't need the extra help. The rest of the time, he does need it.

I love Loki's school. If a teacher messed up, in good faith, and he got lost for a second, I'm not going to be the mean lawyer mommy storming the castle. I'll reeducate the teachers, know they are humans, and KNOW they care about Loki. The school has worked tirelessly to demonstrate that love. I would show them mercy and understanding.

But if the movie theater mandated that he go alone to the bathroom and he got hurt or lost. I would sue them so fast. After all, they are not caring for my kid (or, really, the others in the restroom with him) by sending him in alone.

(Understand, my friend ignored the theater's rule and this Momma Bear would, too. But IF it happened, in hypothetical land...)

My friend's kid? He has some exceptionalities that derived from a significant seizure episode. He needed his mom.


There are laws that protect those with disabilities and do not require disclosure of a disability by the patron. That is the theater's legal issue to address, instead of addressing the non-issue of a 5 year old boy entering a stall with his mom.

No One Cares

Seriously, if mom or dad is present and properly supervising any age child or an adult with disabilities, NO ONE OBJECTS.

No one.


The theaters around the country are not getting a rash of calls about little kids going into the bathroom with mommy or daddy.

Honestly, the objection probably came from the theater out of worries about unescorted teenagers or as a result of politics regarding gender identity.

Those issues are better dealt with with compassion and 
with family or gender-neutral restrooms.

Nobody is calling the theater to complain that a 9 year old boy went to the restroom with his mom or that an 8 year old girl went into the men's room after dad checked that no one was at the urinals.

(Speaking of, at least women's restrooms have private stalls. What's a dad to do?)


If you agree with this post, please consider Tweeting it with the tag @amctheatres so that they can consider a more reasonable policy for the safety and dignity of their guests.

Etcetera.

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14 comments:

Jodi said...

I agree there needs to be a family restroom at the theatre or any business. I am a mother of 4 boys. Mind you, they are all grown now & none of them had any medical issues but as a momma bear I hated sending them to the public restroom when out & about (to many horror stories in the news). I would use the buddy system (family restrooms were not available at that time). I have noticed a lot of businesses in CA have either single stalls or family stalls. However, I agree that I am not offended with little boys with mom in the bathroom. I was there once.

Jodi said...

I agree there needs to be a family restroom at the theatre or any business. I am a mother of 4 boys. Mind you, they are all grown now & none of them had any medical issues but as a momma bear I hated sending them to the public restroom when out & about (to many horror stories in the news). I would use the buddy system (family restrooms were not available at that time). I have noticed a lot of businesses in CA have either single stalls or family stalls. However, I agree that I am not offended with little boys with mom in the bathroom. I was there once.

Paula said...

This is aligned to a much bigger problem which is that everyone must fall into gender buckets. Our entire lives are structured around these buckets. "Boys must wear___ and girls can wear_____", "Boys line up in one line and girls in the other", "Girls teams vs Boys teams". So, I don't agree that it's just AMC and not people complaining. I have no doubt whatsoever that people complain. There is still a completely rigid mindset when it comes to the "rules" about gender. In fact, in my less enlightened days I was a young adult who would shoot my own scathing look at a mom bringing a nine year old boy into OUR bathroom. I didn't consider anything aside from tradition and the rules. We know that many are still there and AMC alone is not culpable for bad policy but they are guilty of not taking a stand and assisting with furthering societal education.

Paula said...

I should add, thank YOU for taking a stand and further education on this issue.

Amy K said...

It is a tough issue for sure. Here's my take as a mom of 2 teenage daughters. Both my daughter's started their cycles in 5th grade - a pretty average age these days. Besides the medical issues of girls starting puberty earlier and earlier, there are also emotional and practical issues. In 5th grade they are so young they don't always do the best job of navigating the practicalities of carrying pads, disposing of pads, managing leaks, etc. So, to be in a stall clumsily dealing with this and walk out of the stall face to face with a BOY that may be close to their age in school could be mortifying. Obviously if there are reasons a boy needs to be closely supervised and there is no other option available then what must be done, must be done. But please keep young girls in mind. At 47 yrs old and a nurse I am really past being uncomfortable about such things but I was not when I was still just a girl.

Anna Wegner said...

In a situation like your friend's I would need to see something in writing. This doesn't sound like a legitimate policy, but more like someone trying to push their own agenda for whatever reason. Maybe I'm just suspicious.

This should be something that parents decide, not a mandated thing for an establishment. You shouldn't need to explain to random strangers/employees about your child's special needs. That can be embarrassing for a child, too. There can be many reasons from disabilities, medical needs, emotional needs, etc. As a parent, you should have the freedom to decide what is in the best interest of your child's health and safety when it comes to public restrooms.

My son has no special needs and is 9 now. If he goes in a public restroom, it is generally with my husband or his 15 year old brother. If just I was there with him, I would most likely take him with me. Obviously, some of this is going to depend on the place- Chick-fil-A would be different than a large mall, truck stop, or airport. It's not a matter of wondering if he will need help with practical issues, but it's a safety concern for me.

I'm probably more protective (some might say over protective) because of knowing too much. My husband is an Peditrician & an ER doctor. I've done different "child safety" training with our mission organization. Now I've been researching statistics on human trafficking while participating in #dressember. I try not to let that make me overreact, but I do prefer to be cautious.

Giftie Etcetera said...

Amy K. - Privacy for the girls is really important, too. That's why family restrooms should be available, at least at big places like the mall.

Kanalt-WellPlannedLife said...

And it's not just kids. Sometimes adults need assistace, too, as was the case with my father. Towards the end of his life, he needed assistance with navigating restrooms and dressing assistance. (He had Parkinson's, so he phsycially couldn't do these things, as well as dementia, which limited him mentally.) Specifically in our case, it was roadside rest stops that presented problems. Only male or female bathrooms. Finally, though, more and more places are offering "Family" restrooms, and I'm a firm believer that they should be available in all (or the biggest ones, anyway) public places. And if they're not, and if someone asks to use a restroom with someone else, they should be allowed to, no questions asked because it's no one else's business.

Thank you for this post.

Anna@stuffedveggies said...

I agree with you BUT - more than once I've been in a public bathroom and seen the eye of an older boy WATCHING me thru the crack beside the door of the stall. If a Mom takes her boy into the ladies room, she definitely needs to take responsibility for his behaviour.

Hil D said...

That is a really interesting take. I had never thought about that before. I have a one-year-old son and there is no way I am letting him go into a bathroom by himself before 7, even then that seems so young!

I think family washrooms or gender neutral ones should be mandatory in that case, if they do not want a six year old, or someone with a disability or medical issues going in with their parent they need a place they can go instead.


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Giftie Etcetera said...

Anna - Absolutely!

tialea2 said...

I agree with all. There is a need for more family restrooms. I struggle with this when I am out and about with my 5 kids because I do not trust others. If I make them wait outside, I am so concerned for them. Thank you for sharing at the Faith Filled Parenting LinkUp.

Wendy said...

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Mother of 3 said...

I have three boys so I usually make them all go in together and keep an eye out for one another. They sigh and roll their eyes but I'm a firm believer in safety in numbers. That said I would not be following anyone's policy but my own gut. Seems like more places need to have a "family" bathroom put in place then.