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Has it Really Come to This? Parental Waivers for Kids' Birthday Parties

Parental waiver

School field trip? Yes. Playdate? Really?

Over the weekend I was at a 4-year-old’s bounce house-birthday party where one of the kids unfortunately managed to bypass the inflatable slide and fall from the top of the bounce house flat to the ground. Luckily she wasn’t seriously injured because she landed flat on her back, not on her head, she didn’t twist her neck, and it was at an indoor gymnasium with a padded floor.

It’s not hard to imagine that there exist some parents who might have rushed to hold someone else responsible if their child had similarly taken it upon him or herself to jump instead of slide, and had been more seriously hurt, which is probably why waivers are becoming more common when it comes to kids’ birthday parties and playdates.

But can you even imagine asking another parent to sign a permission slip chockfull of legal language before hosting their child at your home or at a celebration for your child?

It’s one thing if your kid is going to, say, a paintball party and you’re required to sign a release of liability waiver because it’s required by the facility in order to participate. Where it gets, I don’t know, creepy?, is when you’re signing away your rights in case your kids slips and falls at a friend’s house.

Miss Manners wrote in the Washington Post that she thinks it’s kind of strange, according to MSNBC.com. It’s basically “turning a pleasant, neighborly interaction into a formal legal relationship.” And nothing screams fun on a playdate like a legally binding agreement, right?

I know there are some parents who won’t let their kids play at a house where only the dad is at home. And I know there are some parents who insist on looking over a house before leaving their children there (for a loaded gun that just happens to be on the kitchen table, maybe?). If I were someone who had those kind of reservations in the first place, I can’t see myself getting to the stage where what I might find upon inspection of the house would be the dealbreaker.

However, inviting a kid to your house or party and making their parents sign a consent form? What, exactly, has changed so much at playdates or birthday parties since I was a kid that legal clearance is required ahead of time? What are you doing in your house or at your party that you think might be worth me taking you to the legal cleaners for? Has knife-throwing replaced jump-roping as the go-to activity after school?

I can’t imagine signing a waiver for my kids to go on a playdate or attend a regular birthday party. But I can imagine rejecting any future invitations from anyone who attempted to make me sign one even once.

Click here to see a it-would-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-real-parental consent form.

Would you ever require someone to sign a waiver to come to your house, and would you ever sign one before your kid went to someone else’s house?

Photo credit: iStock

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