When dad has to rescue his daughter from the ladies’ room

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ladies, lavatories, ladies' conveniences, cloakroom
Can a man ever justify pushing open this door and strolling in to help his daughters?

When a father is out with his kids, is it ever acceptable for him to venture into the mysterious land of the ladies’ lavatory? That may sound like an odd question to ask, but I have my reasons.

You see I was out with my kids the other day. With no working kitchen, I had decided to take them to a local, family-friendly pub for a bite to eat.

My youngest daughter, Elizabeth, declared she needed the lavatory. Helen, her older sister, said she would accompany her.

I wasn’t entirely in love with the idea, but I was sat down and they were both on their feet and several paces ahead of me. Before I could get up out of my seat they’d disappeared through a door and into the disabled conveniences. I had no reason to question what they were doing as this is where they usually go when we visit this particular pub.

Only thing is, they hadn’t gone into the disabled conveniences at all. Big sister had taken her younger sibling into the ladies. For my eldest, this was nothing out of the ordinary. She is quite capable of taking care of herself. While my youngest is perfectly toilet trained, you still need to be on hand to assist.

What is a man to do when his daughters hide themselves away in a public space that is, quite justifiably, denied to men? My blood pressure rocketed and sweat formed on my brow. What was I to do? Anything could be going on in there. Things got even more tense when Helen casually strolled out of the lavatory leaving her little sister behind.

“Where is Elizabeth?” I asked

“Still on the toilet daddy,” came the response.

I knew the handle to the lavatory door was too high for Elizabeth to reach. The decision was made for me; I simply had to go in and find out what my youngest daughter was up to. She was, after all, stuck and couldn’t get out.

It was rather like that scene in Father Ted when the priests all get stuck in the lingerie section of a department store. I knew I shouldn’t be there and I didn’t want to be there. I simply wanted to get this over with, stat.

As luck would have it, my fears were academic. No other women were present and nobody came in while I dealt with Elizabeth who was, by the way, doing her best to wash her hands. It could, however, have been much worse. I once had to pull Elizabeth out of a toilet when she sat on the seat and fell through the middle.

When I cast my mind back, I remembered another scenario when Helen was younger and I took her and a friend out on a play date. Both girls must have been four years of age and they dashed off to the ladies loo.

Unbeknown to me, however, my wife had put a belt on Helen’s trousers and she couldn’t undo it. I hadn’t noticed it because it was under her jumper. A kindly woman heard the two girls inside the lavatory discussing this, saw me hovering outside the lavatory, figured out what was going on and dashed in to quickly undo Helen’s belt before she had an accident.

The other classic scenario is where us guys take our kids to change a child’s nappy. Not that my kids wear nappies any more, but when they did, I frequently found the change facilities were in the ladies.

Should a guy refrain from using the ladies’ conveniences if that’s the only place to change a nappy? If you take a look at the chat forums on Mumsnet, this is a massive issue of debate with many people saying common sense should prevail but an equal number saying they find the thought of a man in the ladies’ horrifying.

One must also play fair. A mum with sons could easily find herself in the reverse situation. Would I be horrified at a woman using the gents with her son? Personally speaking, no I wouldn’t (although the presence of urinals as opposed to cubicles would arguably make it more awkward).

Where do you stand? If you’re a woman, would you feel upset at a guy using the ladies to assist their child or change a nappy? Perhaps you’re a guy who has been in this very situation. Maybe you’re a mum who has had to enter the gents to assist your son. Please leave a comment below.

Image; Publicdomainvectors.org


11 thoughts on “When dad has to rescue his daughter from the ladies’ room”

  1. Hi, I have a son who is five. As I don’t like the idea of him going into the loos alone, I just take him into the ladies with me (me being a lady btw). I will continue to do this until I think he’s old enough. I also have a daughter who is 3. If she is out with her dad then he would take her into the male loos wih him.
    As to the nappy changing dilemma, normally they are a separate room however if you didn’t have any other choice other than to use the ladies loos, then I don’t think anyone has a right to complain really. I mean, what other choice would you have. You couldn’t ask a complete stranger to change her nappy.

    1. If I’m on my own with the youngest, I will take her into the gents. It just happened on this occasion that both girls ran off before I could get to them; older sister taking the younger one with her. Change facilities can be in a separate room, but you’d be surprised how often they aren’t. It can be a real dilemma for a guy.

  2. Interesting read again. I too have this issue in reverse, my son is at that age where the need for independent is stronger than the ability to listen and follow mummies footsteps, he still sits on the toilet as opposed to using urinals but he knows urinals are there in the men’s lavatories and what their use is. So what do I do? Let him venture in alone or continue to take him in the women’s with me?
    He’s almost 5 and I just don’t feel confident enough to let him venture alone but the moment I step foot in the men’s with him I know all shell with break loose… dilemma.

    1. Yes indeed, I can so imagine that mums with sons get this in reverse. In fact, the whole urinal thing makes it more complicated. I can walk into a women’s conveniences and the odds of me seeing anything personal or private are very slim because it all happens in cubicles. Not so the gents! In fact I remember visiting the Natural History Museum in London with my mother as a five year old. There was a sign on the ladies’ saying only boys aged five and under were permitted to go in there.

  3. Ally Mother Under Measure

    The issue of children and toileting has really come to light lately, and while I don’t really think baby changing is an issue (the one time we came across the scenario of the baby change being in the women’s and me being unable to change J, my then husband took him and did him on his knee, something I’ve done plenty of times myself if the baby change is busy), the one I really do think is an issue is, as you pointed out, where do men take their young girls? I’ve had a man open the door of the ladies and shout his girls, I could see he looked desperate so I passed a message on for him to them and reassured him they were ok. But if a man takes his young girl into the men’s, its a completely different ball game as men actually have their wangers out! Personally I think that’s auch bigger issue than anything, it takes away the privacy for the men and can be awkward for the girl. I did once see a sign on a door (I think it was the disabled or ladies, can’t remember which) welcoming men with young girls in. I’d much prefer a man come in the ladies, where we’re behind closed doors, than him having to take her into the men’s. I wouldn’t judge a dad who did, I just think it’s unfair for him to have pick when a mum taking her son is such an easy situation. In your situation I think you did the right thing, and had anyone have complained I think you would’ve been within your rights to tell them to bugger off! X

    1. Yeah, the whole “wangers out” thing is awkward for everyone. As for baby change, I am going to politely disagree. yes, we have all changed nappies in public, but a lack of facilities can lead to people a very unhygenic, public change and that is a problem. I know of a dad who – on principle – changed his daughter’s soiled (we’re talking numero dos) nappy on a sofa in a cafe when there was no change available (no change for men or women in this instance). Never good to change a nappy in a place where food is being prepared.

  4. I certainly wouldn’t be upset at finding a gent in the ladies changing a nappy, I would however stop to admire him as that is the ultimate definition of courage & bravery. My partner would always do the public nappy changes (well I did all the public breast feeding, fairs fair) but when the facilities were in the ladies there was no way he would go in there lol.

  5. We have huge issues with a disabled adult child (female) using toilets, quite often the disabled toilet is being used by dads with daughters, unsupervised slightly older children or doubles as the baby change room. It usually means I do all the changing of our daughters nappy when out. If hubby is flying solo he will plan the day around her toilet needs. As a mum to 4 boys also, I’ve spent many a time dragging one or another child out of the men’s room, when they’ve run off in a bad mood thinking I can’t get them there. I’ve also swooped children with total strangers when I’ve seen men hovering around the toilets with their daughters not knowing what to do. I’d have no issue with a man in the ladies retrieving his child as us women are behind closed doors. As long as you yell out you’re coming in to retrieve your child. It’s what I’ve done when I’ve gone into the men’s. Most men never batted an eye lid at me being in their, wrestling with a 5 year old who refused to come out.

    1. See what happens when us parents apply a little common sense? We all get along just fine and get the job done. I do, I do have huge sympathy regarding your disabled daughter. I often have to accompany my kids into the disabled facilities as it’s the best option for them but it makes me feel guilty in case a wheelchair user os someone with a disability needs to use the room.

  6. I think it’s a reasonable reason to go in women in there or not. I wouldnt’ blink if a dad walked in calling out for his daughter. I have had to do the same in the men’s to my son who refuses at almost five years old he can no longer go in women’s toilets either. Hardly for a mother to do this as men don’t always use stalls hahahaha Been there! EEEK Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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