Free-Range Kids

Advice Columnist Tells Mom to Imagine Perverts in Men's Restroom

"If anything had happened to your son while he was unattended in the men's room, you never would have forgiven yourself."

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Restroom
Arvind Balaraman

Yes, yes, we must support our fellow parents as they grope—sorry, bad word choice!—their way through this whole child-rearing thing. I don't recommend scolding them in public. But when a pop culture advice dispenser actually recommends worst-first thinking (dreaming up the worst-case scenario first, no matter how unlikely, and proceeding as if it's likely to happen), we must register our dismay, as a reader did when she sent me this recent Dear Annie column (boldface mine):

Dear Annie: I am a single mom with two boys, ages 4 and 7. We recently took a trip out to Chicago to visit my parents. Our flight was delayed by over an hour. My 7-year-old asked whether he could go into the men's bathroom alone. I said no and decided that the three of us should stay together while at a busy airport. I took him into the ladies' room with me. As I directed him to go into a stall and I held my 4-year-old's hand, a woman said, "You know, he really is too old to be in a ladies' room." I explained that I didn't want him to be alone in a large public place; all it takes is one creep. Afterward, though, I began doubting myself. Was she right? Did I do the right thing? When is a child old enough to go to the bathroom alone in a public place? — Cautious Mom

Dear Mom: You made the best decision for your family. And frankly, I would have done the same thing. If anything had happened to your son while he was unattended in the men's room, you never would have forgiven yourself. We must look out for and support our fellow mothers, not make them doubt themselves or feel uncomfortable about their decisions. You did the right thing.

The reader who sent me this clip wrote:

Question for this mom: What are you doing to 'creep proof' your son?

Great question and here's the answer: Teach your child to recognize, resist and report abuse. Or as my friend put it yesterday: "Anytime someone says, 'Don't tell your parents,' tell your parents!"

That advice will keep kids a whole lot safer than telling a mom to always imagine terrible things happening to her child, and the angst she will feel because she wasn't clutching his hand 24/7. Catastrophizing childhood only leads to preventing all sorts of very safe (but never perfectly safe) activities that help children grow up and become street smart, problem-solvers.

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  1. Advice Columnist Tells Mom to Imagine Perverts in Men’s Restroom

    Hot.

  2. So standing outside the men’s while the kid is in there was too risky? Couldn’t possibly hear him yell? Figure out that 20 minutes is too long unless he had curry the day before?

  3. 7 years old is in first or second grade. Does he go to the bathroom by himself at school? Yes?
    There you go.

    1. Schools are safe places. The gun bans are working.

      1. True story. There’s a elementary school nearby called “Arsenal Elementary School”

    2. After much pleading, Crusty’s mom took him with her to the women’s bathroom all through his high school years.

      1. Which one was doing the pleading?

        1. Those of us who use the men’s room. You haven’t seen what he did in there.

  4. Why did this woman feel the need to get validation from some advice columnist?

    1. Because the only feeling better than being a smug sanctimonious bitch is having your smugness validated by a 3rd party?

  5. I have a 7 year old. She’s plenty competent to go to a crowded restroom alone. But I’m a dude. We think differently. My wife is much closer to “imagine all of the perverts”.

    One day at the park, I was carrying a big load of stuff back to the car with my wife and kids following behind. My 7 year old was probably 3 or 4 at the time. When we got to the car my wife was all worked up and asked me if I saw what happened (uh, of course not).

    My daughter was running to catch up with daddy and messed up her crocks. When she stopped to fix her shoe, some guy got out of his car and walked over to her and gave her a little dollar store toy and offered to help her. My wife had him on her radar the whole time, and it turned out she was right. She caught up quick, snatched our daughter up, told him thanks and hustled the kids to the car.

    She’s much more tuned in to that stuff than I am. Now, to be fair, she sees about 30 imaginary threats for every real one, but maybe that’s why a husband-wife team is best for parenting. We can keep each other in check.

    1. My daughter was running to catch up with daddy and messed up her crocks.

      If you really cared about your kid she wouldn’t be wearing crocs.

      1. Whoa, how did you know what the guy was telling his daughter?

      2. If you really cared about your kid she wouldn’t be wearing crocs.

        Another compromise. Those things are objectively ugly and I would never purchase them. So we compromised and my wife buys them.

        And a great object lesson in the free market. Were it up to government bureaucrats things like croc Jibbitz charms would never exist. Even if I was the bureaucrat…. because I can’t see the attraction to the shoes in the first place, let alone trying to make up for an ugly shoe by putting decorations all over it.

        1. My 4 yr old insists on only wearing Star Wars crocs and always manages to trip when he is running in them. I hate them, but they are the only shoes he will wear most of the time.

  6. Why didn’t the distraught mother simply tell the nosy other woman that her son identifies as female? Then the distraught mother could have accused the other woman of cisgenderism, made her the target of a national boycott, have Andrew Cuomo ban her from attending any New York State colleges, and have forced her employer to fire her.

    1. LOL! But true-if this mom was savvier and craving the attention, she would have done just that.Would have ended up on the Today Show/Good Morning America and gotten some $ from Chicago airport authority for discrimination. Then the dems could recruit her to run for congress, esp if she lives in a flyover state.

  7. What are you doing to ‘creep proof’ your son?

    Chaining him to the attic radiator.

    1. Any child of Crusty’s is going to be thoroughly inoculated against creeps pretty early on just from exposure.

      1. “And when some creepy man comes to you and offers you candy, stand up tall and make a chinchilla alarm call, like this: SQEAK, SQEAK, SQEEEEEAAK.”

  8. I thought the adbice columnist take was more “trust your own judgement” about safety precautions than fear mongering. Are we suggesting thst the mother should have been orecented from doing what she did?

  9. We must look out for and support our fellow mothers, not make them doubt themselves or feel uncomfortable about their decisions.

    This is how Trump gets elected.

  10. “Advice Columnist Tells Mom to Imagine Perverts…”

    OK… I’ll be in my bunk.

  11. My 7-year-old asked whether he could go into the men’s bathroom alone. I said no and decided that the three of us
    should stay together while at a busy airport.

    Is it just me or shouldn’t large public (U.S.) airport be in the ‘Top 5 safest places for kids to go to the bathroom’? The restrooms are usually well inside the second or third layer of security, there’s cameras everywhere and an exceptional number of authoritative people walking around, traffic in/out is fairly tightly controlled, everyone’s routinely being told to keep their eyes open for ‘anything suspicious’… if the same level of security were in place around the restrooms at your local park, that’s the restroom you would choose to make sure your kid didn’t get molested/kidnapped. Like if you don’t trust your kid to use the restroom at the airport like that, doesn’t that leave like your house and maybe your bank as valid places for your kid to use the restroom? As a parent, WTF are you going to do when your kid has to go at Target or Wal-Mart?

    1. Haven’t you heard? Airports are crawling with sex traffickers. While you’re doing your business, glance to your left, then your right (hey, I said glance, not stare!). Chances are, at least one of them is a sex trafficker. If not, then it’s probably you.

      1. That’s all true, but the pervs are in the TSA. Your only hope is they’re tied it from their paid groping.

  12. Always instruct your son to display dominance in public restrooms by sitting in the stall with the widest stance possible.

    1. And tell him to tap his foot in a threatening manner.

      1. This guy was brought up right.

  13. What are you doing to ‘creep proof’ your son?

    Make sure they’re too ugly to rape?

  14. Advice Columnist Tells Mom to Imagine Perverts in Men’s Restroom

    Hello McFly, its the men’s restroom…so perverts pretty much 24/7.

    1. All men are rapists according to SJWs

  15. Or she could have told the kid to do his business in front of the TSA checkpoint-no safer place than that

    1. That would guarantee a groping.

      1. I forgot to add /sarc, but didn’t think I needed to….

  16. Don’t they have “family” bathrooms for exactly this reason?
    Every airport I’ve been in has one of those mixed-gender/handicapped bathrooms with a changing table so parents can go in there with small children.

  17. Great interview on the Art of Manliness podcast, Lenore. The topic has been haunting me ever since. I have two 7-year olds and a 3-year old, and never fear for their safety when I leave them in the car to run into the dry cleaner or c-store. What I fear, and fear is the correct word, is the busybody who would ultimately report me for doing precisely what parents have done for generations before, trusting my kids with free time.

    It’s a gamble I constantly weigh with every family trip and errand…to go through the effort to take them in with me, doubling or tripling the amount of time wasted on the activity, or risk the public humiliation and legal problems of simply leaving them unattended in a car for 5 minutes.

    1. “…for doing precisely what parents have done for generations before…”
      Oh sure, same rationalization used for slavery, rape, and witch burning, you retrograde chauvinist! (/sarc)

  18. Are we sure that the alleged letter actually exists?
    The signature indicates someone who will not stand up for their facts. Sort of troll like behavior.
    Is there really a Chicago? Does it really have an airport?
    Is the individual called her “son” really and truly male? How can she be sure?
    At the moment of entering the restroom, how did he identify?
    Why is there so much “giving a damn” about the other alleged mother? Was the other mother certain of “her” sex/gender?
    I suspect fake news here.
    Because after all, Chicago.

  19. Since Annie did not answer the question, “When is a child old enough to go to the bathroom alone in a public place?”, I will:

    You must continue to drag your sons into the women’s room until they are 18, or until they are 26 if that provision of Obamacare stands the “repeal and replace” challenge. After that time, they are no longer in danger of being the victim of some pervert and, instead, become the perverts that every mother must protect their children from.

    The toughest time is between ages 13-17 (or 13-25 under Obamacare) when they are both an imminent pervert victim and a definite pervert threat. We’re still awaiting federal guidance on how parents and facilities should proceed with regards to teenage boys in women’s restrooms.

    1. If we just castrated them all at 13 this wouldn’t be a problem.

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