Hey Lifehacker, So I have a daughter that will be turning four in a couple of months. Last weekend I took her to a local pool for some daddy/daughter time. Fortunately, the pool had a special "parents and children" changing area — but that room didn't have a toilet.
When she needed to go, I felt a little uneasy in taking her into the male toilets and changing room, where there were naked adult men walking around. We managed to get in and out quickly without her seeing anything, but it made me wonder: at what age is it unacceptable to take a little girl into a men's changing room? And what should I do if a similar situation arises? Thanks, Uneasy Dad
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We covered this exact issue late last year when a chain of NSW swimming pool centres banned kindergarten-age kids from accompanying their parents into the wrong change room. (Read the full report here.)
The general consensus was that this was a colossally stupid decision and an example of political correctness gone mad (unsurprisingly, the ban was quickly reversed). Most of our readers agreed that it's perfectly acceptable to take a child into the "wrong" change room if they're too young to dress themselves and/or use a toilet unsupervised.
However, the age at which it ceases being socially acceptable is harder to pinpoint. Personally, I've allowed my daughters to use female toilets unattended since they were three and five — but that's mainly because I know they can look out for each other. If I only had one child like you, I'd probably be more reluctant to send her in alone.
In any event, no reasonable adult is going to take offence at the presence of a three-year old, so what you're doing is fine for the time being. (You'd certainly run into more strife if you tried to take them into the women's change room!) It really comes down to how comfortable you feel about it. Obviously, having naked men around isn't ideal, but as long as you make a beeline for the nearest toilet stall she's not likely to see much.
Alternatively, if she only needs to do a Number One, why not get her to go in the pool? This is what most kids do, and quite a few adults too. You know it. I know it. The pool staff know it. If you're going to let your daughter swim in urine, she might as well join the pee party. There's no shame in this; especially when the pool doesn't provide suitable facilities. (She should probably draw the line at dropping a log though.)
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