parent opinion

These girl dads don't know how to take their daughters to the bathroom. The internet has responded.

Modern parenting has given rise to a number of terms that have now become part of common vernacular. There's gentle parenting, baby-led weaning, free-range parenting... and the girl dads.

The emergence of the 'girl dad' as an expression identifies a new generation of fathers who are proudly and actively involved in their daughters' lives. A 'girl dad' loosely encompasses a father who steps into activities and parenting duties that maybe previous generations of men would leave for the mothers to take care of.

It's been a welcome change in how we previously saw gender roles in the family dynamic, and it opens up space for more gender-based equality

With that said, there are still some grey areas that girl dads are having to traverse.

A recent TikTok video has opened up an interesting dialogue about what is the 'correct' protocol when it comes to fathers taking their daughters to the bathroom in public. TikTok user @djdrewski shared an anecdote whereby he and his brother (also a girl dad) had differing views on what to do when their daughters needed to use the toilet at Disney World.

"All right, so two girl dads in Disney. We're in Disney World right now," he said. 

@djdrewski As a “Girl Dad” which restroom are you supoose to use with your toddler DAUGHTER in public places??? #question #girldad #toddlersoftiktok #disney ♬ original sound - DJ Drewski

"There's the restroom. As a girl dad, I bring my daughter into the men's room, of course into a stall, to use the bathroom."

However, he said his brother opted to take his daughter into the women's bathroom.


And, of course, he asked the TikTok community for their opinions on which protocol they should follow in order to make women and children feel most comfortable. (Side note: points for thinking about how your actions may impact women, guys.)

"We don't know which is the right way to do it, or how women feel. I just don't feel comfortable going into a women's bathroom," he said. "So as a girl dad what is the right way, which bathroom is the right bathroom to bring your daughter into as a father?"

In the comments section people were eager to share their thoughts, with many divided on what they feel is the best course of action.

One user believed "the parent's gender determines which bathroom to go [to]" as a rule of thumb.

Someone suggested asking a female stranger with daughters of their own to accompany the child into the women's bathroom. "If you dont feel comfortable going in there with them nor them going alone just ask a mom with her children or teenage girls," they wrote.

Another commenter firmly believed that a father should take his daughter into the men's bathroom. "Men’s bathroom. Get them into a stall. That way you're there to protect them and no woman gets scared or anything."

It was definitely a mixed bag of views on the subject, with (not surprisingly) plenty of people putting forward convincing cases for either side.


So, what do Aussie parents think?

When we put the call out to the Mamamia community to share how they think this common situation should be handled, there was a distinct lean towards men taking their daughters into female bathrooms as the preferred choice.

"I think it depends on age," said Chelsea. "If a little girl was toilet trained I would totally be okay with a dad walking her into the women's bathroom then waiting for her by the entrance door — so she's used to going in there, and being around women seems safer. I have also heard men come in and be like, 'I'm just bribing my daughter in.'"

Shared Tarryn, "If the private stall in the men's bathroom is filthy I suggest calling out into the female bathroom, explaining your situation and waiting for the approval to enter/wait for it to empty."

"My husband used to get anxiety around this," said Megan. "Ideally not a male bathroom, they stink and my husband didn't like it. He had had to do it before and didn't like taking our girls in there. Preference is using the disabled or parents' rooms, as they are usually available at shopping centres."

An expert weighs in.

Public opinion is one thing, but is there a preferred protocol that experts suggest? We spoke to Principal Clinical Psychologist Dr Kimberly Stirling to find out her expert opinion on the best and safest option for dads taking their daughters to use public bathrooms.

Firstly, Dr Stirling acknowledges that this is a tricky area, but an important one to discuss. "We often don’t think of access to appropriate child-focused facilities for dads," she tells Mamamia.


In the first instance, she says that the most preferable option is to find a private cubicle.

"Of course if a parents' room or accessible toilet is available, dads are able to use these facilities," she says. "If those are not available, there are some important things to consider."

Dr Stirling said that there are two major things to be aware of when making a decision. "Some women may feel uncomfortable with a male entering a female toilet regardless of them having a child in their presence," she says. "On the flip side it is important for dads to be mindful of the presence of men at urinals and what their children may observe in that setting."

If an accessible toilet or parents' room isn't available and a men's bathroom stall doesn't seem appropriate, Dr Stirling suggests using the female bathroom with plenty of communication to anyone who may be in there.

"Simply announce your entrance to the female toilet and head straight to the stall," she suggests.

As with many areas of parenting, this is one that will require a decision that factors in a number of variables. Often there is no overarching 'correct' answer, but rather a choice that takes into consideration your child's safety and that of the public.

Feature Image: Getty.

Calling all TV and streaming enthusiasts! Complete this survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.