Miss Manners

Children Don't Belong in Adult Locker Rooms

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At our gym we have a women's locker room, a men's locker room, and a "family" locker room for adults with children of either gender under the age of 13.

Yet women insist on bringing their children into the women's locker room in violation of the rules. We try to be polite ("Did you know that we have a family locker room for children 12 and under?") but the response is often impolite ("So what? I don't need to follow the rules").

I think I have the right to undress, shower or change clothes without a 4-year-old boy who's half my height staring at me with interest.

The staff members, when we manage to track one down, often refuse to enforce their own rules. Short of changing gym memberships, do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this situation?

GENTLE READER: Concern for the children and their potential psychological damage can go a long way toward convincing (or shaming) a parent who doesn't want to be inconvenienced. You might say, "I am about to undress, and I don't want to scar your child. I think he would be better off if you used the facilities designated for families."

Miss Manners hopes that if you hit the right note of concern, laced with just a hint of creepiness, the parents will be the ones running to the managers to enforce the rules.

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