Dad’s Simple Question Sparks Important Debate

Image: GettyImages

Image: GettyImages

It’s an issue all parents have faced: What do you do when you’re out and there’s no changing table? The truth is, though, dads meet this roadblock much more often than moms. Stay-at-home dad Scotty Schrier started Dads Who Change Diapers, a site with a mission to make businesses aware that being family-friendly means having a diaper station that both moms and dads can use. 

Schrier of Riverview, Fla., first encountered the changing-table problem when his son was 4 months old. “We went to our local Ruby Tuesday to have a burger, eat a salad, and suddenly the baby needs a diaper,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “I grabbed the diaper bag and said, ‘I got this, babe,’ to my wife.” But when Schrier entered the men’s room, there was no changing table.

“It never dawned on me before that moment that there wouldn’t be one there,” he says. He and his wife called the manager over to complain, and she said she’d talk to upper management about it. The Schriers came back a few times to dine at Ruby Tuesday and check on the men’s room status, but no change happened. Eventually, Schrier says a new manager told him that corporate wasn’t going to do it.

“At that point I got mad,” says Schrier. “I thought about starting a website that listed places that weren’t dad-friendly, with Ruby Tuesday at the top of my list.” But then Schrier decided to create something more positive: a website that cataloged the locations where there are changing tables dads can use — whether in a men’s room or a family restroom. Two weeks later, was born.

Schrier with his two sons. (Photo: Courtesy of Scotty Schrier)

Schrier with his two sons. (Photo: Courtesy of Scotty Schrier)

The site uses a mapping system, and people can submit businesses with family-friendly changing rooms in their local areas to help fill in the data. Schrier says after toting his two boys around, he knows exactly where to go in his own hometown, but he hopes the map can become more of a national resource. He also has tips: “Big-box stores like Target and Walmart are usually very good,” he says. “And Ikea is the best!”

Schrier says, frustratingly, he still encounters a lot of family-friendly restaurants that don’t have men’s room changing tables. But that original Ruby Tuesday? “They got one!” Schrier says. Earlier this month, his family went into the restaurant and there it was. “I called the manager over — a new guy who had no idea of the backstory — and he said, ‘I’m sorry it took as long as it did.’”

Although Schrier started his website back in 2010, his idea has recently made waves on Facebook, where one PopSugar post garnered almost 10,000 likes and more than 1,300 shares. Schrier hopes that more dads will join his call for equal-opportunity changing rooms and that more businesses will take note. Ashton Kutcher posted on Facebook about the issue last spring, writing, “There are NEVER diaper changing stations in men’s public restrooms. The first public men’s room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page!” That post got over 244,000 likes, 14,000 shares, and 11,000 comments, most cheering him on.

“What I have an issue with is that for family-friendly businesses, on the corporate level, there should be a policy to provide changing stations for parents,” says Schrier. “Not for moms, not for dads — for parents.”

The doting father, who doesn’t even have kids in diapers anymore, continues his quest because, according to him, it’s not just about convenience. “Babies have needs, and the people who fill them are the ones they bond with,” he says. “Changing diapers creates something special between parent and child.” He adds that he noticed as his own boys got older that there was a very strong level of trust between them. His advice for other dads? “Get involved — change the diaper,” he says. “It’s a small act that has big positive consequences. People should realize that.”