While shopping alone with his 5-month-old son, this dad ran into an issue that shouldn’t exist: there was no changing station available to him in a large, public setting.
Every parent has gone through the frantic journey of looking for a place to change their kid’s stinky diaper while running errands or out and about. Unfortunately, that quest can be even more difficult for dads, as men’s bathrooms don’t usually include a changing table or station (because sexism). One dad experienced just that while out shopping at a “large store” while out alone with his 5-month-old son. Ultimately, the dad decided to step into the women’s restroom to change his son, and he ran into some mixed reactions.
“I went over to the restrooms and saw that there wasn't a family/companion restroom, just a men's and women's. I went into the men's room and saw there was a cubicle and a few urinals, but no changing table. The sink didn't have a counter either,” the dad explained in his Reddit post asking if he was in the wrong for going to the women’s restroom to change his son’s poopy diaper.
“I walked out and hunted down an employee to ask where the changing table was. She said it was in the bathroom, and I asked where, assuming there was a family/companion restroom on the other side of the store. She took me back to where I just was. I asked if there was another bathroom, and she said no. I told her I was just in the bathroom and there was no changing table. She asked if I was sure and suggested I look again.”
He went in and surprise! A changing table did not magically manifest in the time he went to speak to a store employee. When he came out of the men’s restroom, the employee was no where to be seen.
“Keep in mind, my son has been in his poopy diaper this whole time. So I give up and head into the lady's room which sure enough had a changing table. There was a woman in there washing her hands, and she said ‘wrong bathroom, buddy.’ I gestured to my son and said ‘no changing table in the men's room.’ She laughed and said ‘bro, that sucks.’ Then she walked out.”
This encounter feels appropriate, especially the “that sucks” part. A lot of people in the comments chimed in about this as well, recalling their own instances of not being able to find a changing table. “Most don't have them in mens rooms in my experience. They either only have them for women, or there's one ‘family restroom.’ My husband would always complain to a manager. Nothing ever happened,” said one.
Others noted that even when there is a changing table available, it is often in handicap cubicles, limiting accessibility for those who also need the one stall equipped for their needs.
Unfortunately for this dad, another woman wasn’t as understanding as the commenters on Reddit when she entered the bathroom as he was mid-diaper change. “I'm almost done when a woman walks in and starts screaming at me. I tried to explain what I was doing, but she kept screaming ‘Get out! You can't be here!’ Then she ran out.”
“I finished putting the diaper on and rushed out of the bathroom. I saw the woman talking to an employee and decided to leave without my stuff. The employee tried to wave me down and stop me, but I rushed out to my car, buckled my son into his carseat and left.”
The OP’s wife feels that he “absolutely did the right thing,” but his mom says “I’m an idiot and was 100% in the wrong.” Like his wife, Reddit agreed that the OP did the right thing, and some offered suggestions as to how to get the store manager’s attention when this inevitably happens again.
“Maybe if people start changing their babies on the customer service desk in stores that can't be bothered to be properly equipped, the stores will start to rethink this outdated sexist bs,” reads one comment that got over 4,000 upvotes. One Redditor, who had previously worked in customer service, recommended going directly to the manager.
“OP should have changed it on the manager’s desk. Or asked the employee to please use the manager’s garbage can to throw out the diaper. That’s when things will change,” they wrote.
This shouldn’t be a predicament for any parent in 2022. It is inherently sexist and puts a lot of people in completely avoidable awkward situations. Also, to anyone that witnesses this happening, maybe talk to the manager about their store’s lack of changing stations instead of screaming at a desperate dad changing a dirty diaper.
Final verdict: the store is to blame for anyone’s discomfort here. How are dads supposed to step up and do more childcare when much of the world still assumes that mom is always taking care of baby?