Grandfathers and taking a child to the bathroom: The social stigma

In our society, we’ve been made to think men and child in a toilet = something not right. But how can grandfathers navigate this? Men of all ages face this issue every day when they innocently want to take their child or grandchild to the bathroom, but are worried that others may think they are doing something untoward.

It is frowned upon by some for a man to take a child to the toilet, but what happens when you don’t have an option i.e. you’re babysitting on your own? Or what can you do if your little granddaughter needs to go but you don’t want to have to go in with her in case someone thinks you are dangerous?

On parenting forum “What To Expect” fellow grandparents talked about this issue.

“What are your thoughts on a grandparent going to the bathroom with a toddler grandchild of the same sex. Is it appropriate at anytime? What if the mother or father of the child is available to look after their child while the grandparent goes to the bathroom? Would it be ok for a wee but not a poop, or none at all?” – asked Ozchick30.

Responses were varied. One responder said it was OK with grandma but “If it were a girl and grandpa I wouldn’t allow it, nor would ole grandpa be down for that”

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Another said “Weird question. I’d take the child if I was available. If not, her grandmother could take her but I don’t think I’d be comfortable with her grandfathers taking her. Not that I don’t trust them, I just would prefer a woman take her”.

And in a debate raised on Australia’s biggest online caravanning forum about holidaymakers are annoyed about children using caravan park toilets meant for the opposite sex, one grandfather said it was “bad enough” taking his five-year-old grandson to the playground. “I can imagine the looks if I walked into a gents’ toilet with him, so my wife takes him to the ladies”.

One Starts at 60 reader wrote to us and said “It’s different to what it used to be – I have to approach grandparenting very differently nowadays as to not make myself a target for unfair criticism…which is quite sad. It means I can’t put my little granddaughter on my shoulders or lap like I could with my own daughter 30 years ago. I actually have a couple of mates who are teachers and they have had to drastically change the way they teach and interact with students. It’s a completely different story for women too mind you”.

So how can you feel OK about taking a small child to the bathroom? There are parent rooms in most major shopping centres which you can use. Failing that and if you’re outside and only have access to a disabled toilet, let the child go in and stand at the door. If you need to go in with them, you should not feel bad about it.

Support from others and getting rid of the stigma is important.

Tell us, do you think grandfathers should be able to take their grandson or granddaughter to the bathroom?