A Brisbane dad has started an internet shitstorm for daring to take his little girl into the ladies’ loos.
Eli Madigan is father to cute-as-a-button Alaya, who has only just learnt to use the toilet. On a recent outing, she told her daddy she needed to go. And she needed to go NOW.
As parents, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s the park or playground, shopping centre or soft play, when your kid has got to go, they’ve got to go. So Eli decided to take his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter into the ladies room instead of the men’s. And people are now freaking out over which toilet should dad use.
To wee or not to wee
What do you do if there’s no parent room available and your kid needs to go? What if you’re not comfortable sending them into a public toilet alone? What if they’re too little and need help? Which toilet should dad use anyway?
As mums, we’ve all seen other mothers and their kids in the ladies room. Fathers are sure to have seen the same; dads with their sons or daughters.
But Eli wasn’t sure what to do. Speaking to ABC News, Alaya’s mum Kara explains that her partner called her in a panic while at the shops with their daughter, unsure about the proper etiquette. “There was only male and female toilets and he goes, ‘Where do I take her?’ and I didn’t know.” Kara says.
She says their little girl didn’t want to go into the men’s room. And, as many mums know, parenting rooms or disabled rooms aren’t always available.
“What’s the so-called right thing to do? Mums always take their sons to the toilet. When it’s father and daughter in the female toilets, it can get looked upon a bit differently.”
Kara says her partner’s decision has created a furore on Facebook, with people split about whether a dad should dare to enter female loos. She says some women even became aggressive when she raised it in an online mum’s group.
” Of course they can go into a woman’s toilet. What’s the big deal? Anyone would think these hoighty-toighties are disrobing before entering a cubicle! Quit the pearl clutching and let dads go about caring for their girls appropriately.” Belinda
“I would ask a reliable and trustworthy looking woman who is going in if she would help a guy out and take my little girl in.” Ward
“Men’s toilets are often disgusting. There’s no way I would want my daughter to sit on a men’s public toilet!” Charlie
I use the men’s with my three-year-old. We go into a cubicle together, she does her business, we wash our hands, and leave. This isn’t a conundrum unless you’ve got a learning difficulty.” Benjamin
But other dads – and mums too – have sprung to Eli’s defence too and say they would do the same.
“No issue, I have, and would again, take her to the women’s room – despite the glares.” James
“Women need to pull their heads in and not get upset when a Dad has to do this.” Simon
“My husband caused quite a stir one day. He was out with our baby daughter and the only baby change table was in the ladies toilets… so in he went… some people were quite disgusted but what was he meant to do??? There was no baby change table in the mens room or a separate parents room. I was proud of him.” Sarah
“My husband doesn’t have issue taking my daughter either into the disabled or into the men’s, but he does have issue with how disgusting the toilets in the men’s usually are. I’d be more than happy for him, and any other male parent, take their daughters into the women’s toilets.” Emma
The expert weighs in
We get it; men’s toilets are PRETTY horrendous. But aside from that, what IS the ‘right’ way to approach toilet time when out in public with a child who is a different gender to you? Parenting expert and father of six daughters (yes really), Dr Justin Coulson recommends using a common sense approach and choose the toilet suited to the adult’s gender.
“The reality is until they’re at least three of four years of age, you just take them into the toilet that you use.” Dr Coulson
“Young kids are oblivious, they just want to go to the bathroom so as long as it’s clean and safe and they have appropriate supervision, the job can get done,” he tells ABC News.
He also points out parents who make a fuss about it may be putting their own concerns and insecurities onto their kids. “A two-and-a-half-year-old girl going into a men’s restroom and seeing three or four men standing with their faces to the wall as they do their business is going to be completely oblivious,” he says.
I can’t say that I would feel comfortable taking my son into the men’s room. My kids have always come into the ladies with me, if a parents’ room or disabled toilet hasn’t been available. The opposite has never really been an option.”
What do you think? Which bathroom do YOU use with your kids?
Need some toilet training tips? Check out these four ways to make the process easy!