A New Zealand father has been asked to leave the parents’ room while trying to care for his five-month-old daughter.
Josh Anderson was shopping at Westfield in Manukau, Auckland when he entered the parents’ room to change his daughter’s nappy and feed her.
He also used the bathroom himself while in there so he could fit his daughter’s pram into the cubicle with him, however, when he came out of the cubicle he was confronted by an angry mother who told him men weren’t welcome in the room.
The woman reportedly pointed to the sign on the parents’ room door which showed an adult with a child wearing skirts, and proceeded to tell him he should have taken his daughter to the men’s bathroom.
“You're not allowed to use this facility because it's for women only. Can you not see the sign? You have no right!” the woman allegedly said.
When Mr Anderson asked the woman if she thought he should take his daughter into the men’s room to change her, the woman replied: “that’s what all the men are supposed to do.”
Mum shares disturbing encounter on Facebook
The baby’s mum Kori Anderson said she was furious when her husband later explained what had happened.
“It’s called a PARENTS’ room for a reason,” Mrs Anderson wrote on Facebook.
“Parents’ rooms in malls are not just for mums - dads and caregivers are welcome too. If you aren’t aware of this then please take the time to educate yourself and your family,” she added.
Mrs Anderson said a men’s public bathroom isn’t suitable to change a baby and her husband has just as much right as any parent or caregiver to use a parent’s room when with children.
“There are no change tables in the men’s room, let alone anywhere clean or suitable to tend to a baby. There’s also nowhere to leave a pram with a baby safely whilst the father uses the cubicle and for slightly older female children I would consider the men’s room an inappropriate place for them to be,” Mrs Anderson told Yahoo News Australia.
After the incident Mr Anderson was on the way to speak to centre management when he spotted a cleaner nearby the parents’ room who confirmed that all genders could use the room.
“On the way to find management he found a cleaner who confirmed the parents’ room was for all mums, dads and caregivers,” Mrs Anderson said.
Mr Anderson later returned to the room that day for his daughter but was still angered by the previous encounter.
“He didn't want to go to the parents’ room and change my daughter and then take her to the men's room and leave her in the pram out in the open whilst he used the bathroom himself in the men's room,” Mrs Anderson said.
Post’s powerful parents’ room plea
The mum posted about the incident on Facebook, to draw attention to the fact that parents’ rooms are for all parents and caregivers, regardless of gender, and not just for mothers.
“It’s 2020 and we are living in a society where we are encouraging fathers to step into the role that mothers historically assumed. How can we have these expectations of dads if we treat them like criminals or creeps taking their children to the parents room to tend to them?
“It’s about time we praised the fathers for stepping up to sharing the parental responsibility, not tear them down!” Mrs Anderson told Yahoo News.
Manukau City Westfield spokesperson responded to a Yahoo News Australia enquiry by saying the room was open to all caregivers.
"Parents’ rooms are provided for the use of all parents, carers and guardians,” the spokesperson said.
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