Anyone with school-aged children probably has sore hands from signing the multitude of permission slips required nowadays for even the most innocuous in-school activities like checking out books from the library. Shockingly, some parents have taken the unnecessary permission slip to the next level, asking other parents to sign liability waivers for birthday parties and playdates. You may remember Meredith Carroll’s post about the increasing popularity of party waivers from earlier this month, wherein she quotes Miss Manners as saying they turn “a pleasant, neighborly interaction into a formal legal relationship.” I totally agree. I was asked to sign one such document recently, and invited to chat with Sukanya Krishnan of WPIX 11 news here in New York this morning about the phenomenon.
We were joined by child psychologist Dr. Lawrence Balter, and personal injury attorney Greg Gianforcaro. During a pre-show dish with Gianforcaro, I mentioned that it’s not parties for little kids that worry me. It’s parties for teens that could really benefit from this kind of parental vigilance. (No, my daughter does not have permission to make out in your son’s room, get drunk in your backyard or smoke pot in your basement.) But regarding the many normal childhood activities small children enjoy at parties and playdates (playing on a swing set, playing tag, eating pizza), I’m totally fine with her engaging in all of them, no signature required.
Unfortunately I can’t embed the video of my appearance here, but to watch our conversation, visit the WPIX website. As I mentioned on air, I think permission slips for parties and playdates are less a symptom of helicopter parenting and more a sign of the times. I actually think these permission slips are just a parenting fad, like ‘My Child Is an Honor Roll Student’ bumper stickers. Sure, you still see a few of them here and there, but mostly they’re not around anymore. I’m sure liability waivers for parties will soon meet the same fate, or, at least, I hope so.