Gym changing rooms

(61 Posts)
Aloysius Wed 23-May-12 09:27:18

I have 4 boys, the eldest of which is 7 and we swim 4 times a week. The gym where I go has recently been dropping hints (the manager has a son in one of their classes) that he is too old to come in the ladies changing room, and has sent her son (aged 6 on his own in the mens). I am worrying myself to death about this and have so far flouted the rules. Apparently some lady complained when her son stared at her bust. My boys are quite at home with female bodies (we have no issue with nudity at home) and don't do this and I have no problem with him being confined to a cubicle (there are only 2) and then waiting outside when dressed. I can't believe that the lady who complained had any children/grandchildren because I did a quick straw-poll this morning and everyone agreed with me. Obviously my problem is compounded by the fact that I have 3 boys with me at any one time. There are no separate disabled changing rooms (only a disable toilet in the foyer). The showers in the mens changing rooms are all open and I have been informed that there is a male who 'likes younger boys' at the gym (this is from someone who was told by HIS wife). I am obviously worried out of my mind. I think it is unsafe and unreasonable. If the sign states "over the age of 7" could that be interpreted as until he is aged 8 ? I am seriously considering taking them to the municipal pool and keeping my £150 every 6 weeks for lessons.

Kayano Wed 23-May-12 09:33:24

Well he'll have to learn soon enough. Why not ask him if he wants to use the men's changing room as he is getting a bit old.

Unsafe and dangerous? I don't really see how he is only getting changed confused

Kayano Wed 23-May-12 09:34:38

If you think there is paedo in the gym hmm I would change gyms.

You can't keep them in the ladies change forever.

avivabeaver Wed 23-May-12 09:35:09

i would throw the problem back at them tbh. i dont have boys but can see the issue;

either they cope with a polite, well behaved non staring 7 year old in the ladies

you all change in the mens, and they make sure that these changing rooms are
closed whilst you use them.

They find another solution

these are the only options as far as you are concerned.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 09:37:41

I don't think YABU. I have boys too, and while it's a great that some boys could cope on their own in the changing room, some just can't, and their parents shouldn't be put in this position by the gym.

If people have complained about another child, then they are effectively complaining about the lack of facilities, not about a parent looking after their child. Drop your own hints right back about the lack of family facilities, and until those are put in place, do what you think is right for your children. You have as much right as any other gym member.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 23-May-12 09:40:10

I see what you are saying OP. I think the gym ought to have a designated area for you to get changed with your son if you know what I mean. I'm sure my friend's gym has something like this, spacious cubicles for mums and sons or dads and daughters. I agree I would not want my Dd going into a changing room on her own at that age.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 09:41:24

I assume you have reported this male who "likes younger boys" to both the gym and the police?

At 7 I think he should be able to get himself changed and I think you should be encouraging him to get changed in the male changing rooms.

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 09:47:23

I think people are pretty naive if they think a 7 year old boy is completely immune to anything happening to him when he is on his own in a male changing area full of strangers. I'm sure 90% of the time, nothing would, but that doesn't mean it would be totally unheard of.
I don't think YABU OP and I think if the gym has a policy of allowing kids that age in to start with, they should have a family changing area.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 09:49:25

That would suggest 1 in 10 something would happen. I find that very hard to believe

Kayano Wed 23-May-12 09:50:51

Have you made they gym aware that they have a paedo lurking in the men's room?

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 09:53:56

I find that very hard to believe

Find it hard to believe if you want. Personally I wouldn't be interested in testing it out on my own child. My DS was a small 7 and there's no way I'd have him in a change area on his own with a bunch of strangers (though he'd be in the male area with the other boys for his own swim lessons).

oopsi Wed 23-May-12 09:54:24

what would happen to him when he is 7 that wouldn't at 8,10, 12??
YABU very

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 09:56:01

I'm sure you can provide evidence of all these dangers lurking in male changing rooms. For one in 10 children to succum to them there must be plenty.

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 09:56:31

It's a very personal thing. If others want to send their small boys into male change areas on their own, I have no problem with that. I just didn't with mine.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 09:58:40

So what age is a child old enough to face the obvious massive risks in a changing room then?

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 09:58:51

Sirzy that was just my feeling on it, that I'd rather my own child was older and more aware of his own surroundings and more independent before I'd allow him into a changing area on his own. Why are you getting at people who have different opinions to you? I don't object at all to what you do with your own child.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 09:59:54

So I can't question your logic when you make such claims as things are only ok 90% of the time?

Can I suggest a forum may not be the best place to post if you don't want your views questioned.

Aloysius Wed 23-May-12 10:00:57

Yes, I have mentioned it to the gym, but I don't think they will do anything without a sex offender register or his wife's evidence (which I'm not sure could be provided). I think if there is any chance of a 7yr being subject to any kind of inappropriate behaviour it is unacceptable. It is alright saying the likelihood is minimal, but no mother would take that risk and then have a child damaged for life when it is avoidable. He is perfectly able to get himself changed, what I am not convinced of his ability to identify a dangerous situation and get himself out of it. And to be honest, I don't think I should have to explain the ins and outs of paedophilia and the dangers that exist to him in today's society at the age of 7. I wouldn't let him use male toilets unaccompanied (or female ones for that matter).

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 10:02:44

So what is going to change between now and him being 8?

If its such an issue for you can I suggest you to somewhere else which provides family changing facilities.

Aloysius Wed 23-May-12 10:03:35

I don't think the point is something different will occur at 7, 8, 23 or 56 for that matter. The difference is in the child's maturity to deal with it: identify an unsafe situation and get help.

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 10:04:51

There's risk everywhere sirzy. Yes I agree I shouldn't have said 90% of the time which for me, is just a turn of phrase really.

I have no idea when anyone else thinks their child should be in a change room alone, nor do I care. I just responded to the OP cos my opinion is she's not BU.

No mother should have to justify her choice on this really. The bottom line is the gym has not provided appropriate change areas and she has a right not to let her boy change alone if that's what she wants.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 10:04:55

But surely as a parent it's your job to teach them how to do that without creating panic. Keeping him at your side forever isn't going to do that.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 10:05:47

Well actually if the gym has rules otherwise then she has to follow them or go elsewhere

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 10:06:07

Yes and I have done and we're all good.

Aloysius Wed 23-May-12 10:06:12

There is only one gym (to which we belong). When they build another with beautiful family changing facilities I will be off.

Aloysius Wed 23-May-12 10:07:26

Thanks for the parenting advice. Much appreciated

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 10:07:37

There isn't a definitive age at which children can safely be left alone to get changed in a gym changing room, they all develop maturity at different rates.

We don't expect all children to start walking at exactly the same age, or start talking, or start reading, so why do we expect that they should all be mature enough to get changed on their own at the pool at exactly the same age?

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 10:09:18

Sirzy, yes it is our job as parents to teach our children how to keep themselves safe, but it is also our job as parents to look after them until we believe they are ready to do that for themselves.

FannyFifer Wed 23-May-12 10:09:28

How old is the next oldest boy? Just send them both in together.
No need for showering, get dry, dressed then wait outside, shower when home.
Not a big drama.
I wouldn't be happy if I was in female changing room with my daughter and there was a 7 year old boy as she would be uncomfortable.

blueglue Wed 23-May-12 10:12:02

Yanbu 6yo belongs with adult at swim changing rooms.

Rule here is 8 yo.

Katienana Wed 23-May-12 10:23:44

I think the biggest risk of kids changing alone is probably that they wouldn't wait for you to get in the pool and would run ahead and jump in unsupervised. If there is a suspected child molester in the gym I would be doing something about that first through, TBH.

oopsi Wed 23-May-12 10:40:29

doesn't the pool have a lifeguard?

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 10:43:05

Fanny, at least you have your dd with you while she feels uncomfortable.

What about a 7yo boy being made to go into the men's changing room alone but is made to feel uncomfortable by a 6yo girl in there with her Father?

It's unfair and sexist that it's one rule for girls and another for boys. They are children!

oopsi Wed 23-May-12 10:50:53

'What about a 7yo boy being made to go into the men's changing room alone but is made to feel uncomfortable by a 6yo girl in there with her Father'

That post makes no sense at all! if he is uncomfortable about being seen by one 6yr old girl, then surely he will be more uncomfortable being seen by umpteen women and girls in the Ladies???

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 10:56:48

Yes, maybe he would, and that's why he wanted to go in the men's, only to find that there was a girl in there of a simelar age to him.

This just another one of the reasons why families should be allowed to do what they feel most comfortable with in the absence of proper family changing rooms.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 11:02:10

But at what age does that stop becoming acceptable though? What about others who are using the facilities do they not have as much right to feel comfortable?

Kayano Wed 23-May-12 11:02:55

And this wife of a paedo is still his wife? confused

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 11:08:32

That's the point sirzy, there isn't a universally acceptable age, which is why these facilities should be obliged to provide family changing.

A 7yo girl might not like to have a 7yo boy in the changing room with her. An 8yo boy might not be able to be trusted to be sensible in the male changing rooms, he might be nervous to go alone or whatever.

The point is that people with equal rights to use the facilities have completely conflicting interests, so there isnt any other solution apart from having family changing. Without that, there will always be someone who doesn't like having to share their changing room with a child of the opposite sex, or a child being forced to do something alone when they shouldnt have to, and neither one of those trumps the other.

FannyFifer Wed 23-May-12 11:11:53

outraged I have a 7 year old boy who gets changed on his own in the men's.

bumpkinbillionaire Wed 23-May-12 11:26:29

This problem will resolve itself pretty sharpish as a 7yo boy is unlikely to be persuaded for very much longer to use womens changing facilities, especially when other boys in his class are using the mens.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 12:02:37

That's great for you and your son Fanny, but not all children are identical to yours!

I have an 11yo ds who has aspergers, and as much as I hate the whole SN thing being brought into every debate on here, he wouldn't have been ok in the men's changing room alone until he was about 9. He could probably have managed before then, but neither of us would have felt confident with it tbh. It's just one of those things, and I don't see him as anywhere near disabled enough to warrant the use of the disabled changing room, nor do I want him to see himself as disabled enough to need to go in the disabled changing room. That would totally contradict the effort I have to make to get him to see that he has to learn the way things are done in society.

It's pointless for you to say that you have a 7yo that is happy to change in the mens, because children are not all the same, but they have the same rights. I could just as easily say I have a 7yo dd who doesn't care if there are 7yo boys in the ladies changing room, but that wouldn't help the 7yo girl who does feel uncomfortable with it.

Ithinkitsjustme Wed 23-May-12 12:45:49

Is there any way you can ask for a lifeguard/ member of staff to be aware that there is an unattended child in the changing rooms. (as a point, surely as the age for being unattended in a swimming pool is 8 then the same age should apply to the changing rooms) The alternative is to take them into the mens changing room yourself.
To outraged sorry, but I think if an 11 year old boy is not able to go into the mens changing rooms alone because of a disablity then he should be using the changing room provided for the purpose.

2rebecca Wed 23-May-12 12:54:13

If it was an 11 year old girl with aspergers would you be taking her into the mens changing room if her dad was taking her to the gym or swimming? My son went to the men's changing room from about 7. He was sensible enough to tell me if there were any problems but I don't see changing rooms as creepy places populated by paedos.
I agree that if a disability stops you using the appropriate changing room you use the disabled changing room. That is a more appropriate room for an 11 year old boy than the women's changing room.

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 13:25:11

He was sensible enough to tell me if there were any problems but I don't see changing rooms as creepy places populated by paedos.

Neither do I actually, but at a number of different levels, I would prefer in relation to my own child, that there be someone with him at that age, even just another child.

ToryLovell Wed 23-May-12 13:36:17

Thing is if all 7+ boys go in the male changing rooms it will create safety in numbers surely? But if the majority ate in the female change then it becomes harder for one or two to follow the rules.

I posted on last weeks thread about DD being mortified that a boy in her class came in when she'd just stripped off. V unfair on shy or modest girls and women. How embarrassed would a 12yo be to discover her period had started in front of lots of boys.

FannyFifer Wed 23-May-12 13:52:15

Outraged My DS does not have Aspergers, although he does have Dyspraxia if we are playing that card.hmm
You say why should he go into the disabled change as he is not disabled but equally he is above the age for the ladies changing room so why should he go in there?
I would hope most people are understanding if an older child with special needs has to use the opposite sex changing room.
But children who are over 7 and NT should really be able to get ready themselves.

Helltotheno Wed 23-May-12 13:59:41

My 7 year old was able to get ready himself, if painfully slowly and chaotically, it was just my preference to keep him with me until he was older cos y'know, I can do what I want unless a rule states otherwise.

Scholes34 Wed 23-May-12 14:08:31

Our municipal swimming pool has beautiful family changing areas and charges £72 for six weeks' worth of lessons for three children.

bobbledunk Wed 23-May-12 14:12:21

It's understandable why you are uncomfortable with him being alone in the mens changing rooms, I don't think you should ignore your instincts. Perhaps you could explain to them that you don't feel that he would be safe unsupervised and if they really didn't want him in the womens a staff member could keep an eye on him in the mens. The staff member wouldn't have to help or anything, just watch to make sure he's ok. That's what my uncle used to do when he took his girls swimming, they would go into the womens but they were under watch.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 16:08:33

FFS, do you people actually read posts?

I said he is 11 now but I didn't feel confident letting him change alone until he was about 9. So barely over the age that most gyms/pools stipulate.

It is no more appropriate for an 8/9 yo with aspergers to use the disabled changing room that it is for them to use the female changing room.

Sorry, but I'm not going to tell my 9 yo he's disabled just because he needs a bit of help to organise himself when getting changed just to suit other people that don't want pre pubescent children in the same changing room as them.

And it's not about playing a card, it's just that some children arent ready to be left to change alone until they are a bit older. AS just happens to be the reason for that in my ds. It could just as easily be that I had a child that doesn't behave well, or that would take 40 minutes to get changed, or could not be trusted to pick all his things up or whatever. It coud also just be a neurotic parent that doesn't want their child to be alone, which is their perogative!

The only solution is for people to put up with others using the gym they pay for in the way they want to, or for them to pressure the managers to get family changing rooms installed.

WineAndPizza Wed 23-May-12 16:10:40

I don't get this. Surely the 'paedo' and your son are unlikely to be the only two people in the men's changing room? Or any other man and your son. Unless you think there is a paedo gang operating at your gym, or you believe other fathers would stand by and watch a man preying on your son, you have nothing to be concerned about.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 16:13:16

Your last paragraph sounds quite selfish. Why should others using the corect facilities have to put up with people who wish to ignore rules?

In the case of special needs its different but then there does get to a stage where for everyone using the disabled facilities is the better option.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 23-May-12 16:39:31

It does get to that stage Sirzy, but I don't personally think that 9 years old is it. They are still very much children at that age, but I would agree that by 10 it's a different matter.

I realise it may sound selfish, but I also think it is quite selfish to complain about a 9yo ( and especially a 7yo as in the OP) being allowed to change with his or her parents. Trying to explain to a child with AS why we had to use the disabled changing room one day, but explain why he had to wait in the queue for the toilet when the accessible one was empty the next is a lot harder than just putting knickers on under a towel.

As it is it never affected us because my ds always had his dad around at swimming when there were only male and female changing rooms, or it was all unisex cubicles, but that's not the point.

Sirzy Wed 23-May-12 16:52:35

But if the op is at a private gym then surely by joining they agree to their terms and conditions so if they say 7s and older then that's what they agreed to.

I do see where your coming from and think 9 may be a better cut off but places have the rules in which you agree to when you sign up.

oopsi Wed 23-May-12 20:43:18

9 is waaaay too old for ANY boy to be in the ladies changing room.

2rebecca Wed 23-May-12 22:38:38

Most people with disabilities accept that they are only disabled for certain activities though. For instance you may need a disabled parking space but not the extra space of a disabled toilet, because you can't walk far but have no problem going to the toilet and vv. If changing rooms are for opposite sex children under 7 only and an 11 year old boy is unable to use the changing room on his own because of his disability then that is what the disabled changing room is for. Whether or not he also needs a disabled parking space or accessible toilet are irrelevent. He doesn't have to take a guide dog with him either. You just use the stuff you need.

slatternlymother Wed 23-May-12 22:52:04

I personally wouldn't let my ds go into any changing room on his own at 7; male or female.

I remember going swimming with my Dad at about that age, and him getting me to go into the ladies' change. I hated it, it was always empty and in my head there were always monsters lurking in lockers blush

Can you not go somewhere with family changing areas?

tittytittyhanghang Wed 23-May-12 23:51:21

YANBU, I find it interesting how much posters say that the chances of a paedo being the in the changing rooms is minute, let you ds go in alone, you are an alarmist, yet should you post asking whether to leave a baby in a house on its own for a minute to nip across to the shop, (where again the chances of anything happening to your baby are probably less than minute) most of mn jumps on you as a crazy unfit mother dicing with her babies life!

2rebecca Thu 24-May-12 07:56:23

The child here is over 7 though and just in the next room and a fire starting is very unlikely.

scattergun Thu 24-May-12 08:05:14

I have all the usual worries about ds (just turned 7) going into changing rooms on his own, mostly in pool changing rooms we've not used before so he won't know where the loos are, where to wait for me, etc. The best design I saw recently was a gym where the wall between the men and women's changing room stopped a few inches below the ceiling. We could talk to each other while changing (it was only a small gym) but knowing that I would be able to hear him if needed or if someone was talking to him was very reassuring.

IKilledIgglePiggle Thu 24-May-12 08:27:35

I swim all the time with my DCs and have done since my 10 yo DS1 was a baby and I have never come across this problem in real life, only have I heard such crap on MN.

My 10 yo can change alone my 8 yo does not because he is dozy and would take ages....... in no way was I ever sending a 7yo to a men's changing room alone. We have family change rooms at our pool now so is not a problem but if anyone would have stopped me getting changed with my young boys then I would have taken my business elsewhere.

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