A friend of mine asked (on facebook) at what age moms were allowing their kids to go to public restrooms by themselves. A few with young boys (age 5 or so) said that they stood outside the men's bathroom, but let the boys go in by themselves while mom "stood guard." Most, however, mentioned ages like 8, 10, 13 and even one mom accompanyed her 17-year-old daughter to the restroom!
Last Sunday evening, I was out to dinner at a family chain restaurant with my kids, my brother and my sister-in-law. My daughter, age 6, announced she was going to the restroom. By herself. She did need one confirmation from mom:
A: Are the toilets aujomadic?
Momma: No. They are not automatic flush.
Side note: She hates those things. The sensors are not meant for children -- they go off while the kid is still on the pot. FLUSH! My sensitive offspring leaps right off the toilet and hits the ceiling.
After my daughter left the table, I announced to my brother "I'm now an outlaw mom." He was confused. Clearly, letting my 6-year-old daughter into woman's restroom by herself could lead to my arrest. Child abandonment. Neglect. Endangement! There are pediphiles lurking in every suburban family chain restaurant!
However, I would like to think that in some small way this is a teaching moment. I am teaching my daughter self-reliance. She can find her way. She knows the difference between adults that she can ask for help, and "strangers" that should be avoided. She does not need her mother to be safe. And she does not need her mother to wipe her butt.
Self-Reliance as a Core Value of Parenting