Waivers for Playdates Are the Latest Sign Parents Have Lost It

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When I was a kid, we didn't have "playdates," we just played. Today they have become crazy beasts that require the power of a smart phone to track and more planning than a wedding in some extreme circles. And oh yeah, now some even require that you sign a waiver before your child is allowed to enter her playmate's house.

I wish I was kidding, but apparently it's true. According to Today, parents increasingly are being asked to sign waivers before their children are allowed to attend a birthday party or a playdate.

Now the birthday parties I understand to some degree. When I've had parties at indoor bounce facilities, gyms, or other businesses that require them as part of the package protocol, that's one thing. There's no real choice in the matter for the hosts, and most parents willingly sign without even reading the fine print that basically says you won't sue. Fine. But for a playdate, at someone's house? Ridiculous.

I don't want to get sued more than the next person, and yes, people have gotten pretty litigious these days, but c'mon. These are supposed to be fun occasions, not contractually binding agreements. Heck, if we start there, why not get them for any child who comes into contact with yours -- just in case they happen to collide?

One parent who had been asked to sign such a waiver for a playdate wrote into Miss Manners asking for her etiquette input on the matter. I thought her answer in The Washington Post was spot on:

Well, there is an awful lot of suing going on. But that is all the more reason to be wary of people who harbor anticipatory litigious thoughts about their children’s playdates. However, that is not the only worry that Miss Manners would have if she were you. What goes on in that household that such a precaution is necessary?

Personally, no one has ever asked me to sign one before a playdate. If they did, I think I'd quickly find an excuse why said playdate needed to be cancelled immediately. Typhoid flu, whatever, but I certainly can't imagine leaving my child in the home of someone freakishly paranoid enough to ask that I sign one. Plus, the idea of waiving any responsibility for my child's safety from the person I'm entrusting his care to seems all kind of wrong.

Have you ever been asked to sign a waiver before a playdate? How did you/would you react?


Image via edenpictures/Flickr

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3gals 3gals

We will, once our children are older. We have a zip line, two creeks, and a pool. Hoping to add a trampoline to the mix soon. The parents will always be welcome to "play", but for us we will ask for written permission for access, especially on the zip line.

littl... littlest.angel

I remember someone having my mom sign one so we could play on a trampoline, but for just a play date in general? I dont think that we have the full story on why the waiver was a requirement.

Stephanie Rae Halter-Miller

I do not have a problem with this in certain situations such as the use of a pool, trampoline or horse riding for instance. In fact I have signed giving permission for my girls to use a friends trampoline years ago. other then that it seems kinda silly for regular play date.

kitflame kitflame

I have a neighbor whose sons play mates parents sued her because the child was accidentally injured at her home.turns out the during family had no medical coverage for the child so needed medical paid for..the homeowners ins covered it ...I think that's irresponsible having noa coverage ...but it did get a bit ugly. /uncomfortable... noone wanted the kid at their house after that ...poor kid....I've been asked to give a copy of my insurance when my child went away without a family.I thought that was reasonable and I felt it was for everyones safety

oaktr... oaktree71

it is probably because most of the kids are not very well behaved this days and very wild. So I totally understand. I see it every day. And if a mom has to invite such a  kid for whatever reason, it is better to be safe then sorryshrugging

twinm... twinmomraising1

Growing up, my parents required a permission slip/waiver if the kids wanted to play on our trampoline.  They didn't dictate what the note should say, but required that mom or dad send a permission slip just because so many broken bones and head bumps can happen.

Otherwise, I do thinks this is over the top.  I would probably do it if I had a swimming pool or bounce house or something though.  Accidents happen, and the emotions and guilt from the situation would be enough to pull me down - I wouldn't want to have to deal with litigation on top of it.

If I was asked to sign one and I felt the home and family were trustworthy and weren't using it as an excuse to be negligent, then I would sign it.

mrstu... mrstucker2007

wow how stupid really when i was a kid we would just play we didnt worry about stupid crap like that

Anna Wessel

What. I've never heard of such a thing.... Does anyone here do that? I have asked parents if they have insurance before I let their children jump on my trampoline or ride a Quad Motorcycle before. And we did have one accident, where thank God they did have insurance. Broken arm... But seriously, if you don't trust them enough to not sue you, than maybe you shouldn't have them in your home.


yours... yourspecialkid

I can't imagine requiring it for regular play.  I do know some insurance policies require you to protect yourself..hot tubs, pools, trampolines, 4 wheelers, horses, boating..all kinds of stuff.

I can't imagine an instance where I would ever sue because of a "playdate"...not even if my child got hurt.  Kids get hurt sometimes..you take them to the dr if they need it and go on your merry way.  If it was something big I might ask if the other parents if they would kick in their homeowners ins to help out..but I would not sue.

Angela Sewell

We had horses when I was a kid, and my mother would not let any of my friends near them or to ride them without them signing a waiver. I thought she was going a little overboard at the time, this was in the 80's, but now I can see that she was trying to protect what little we had. So for something like that, things that are inherently dangerous, I can see the point. For the average playdate, I'm thinking it is a bit much though.

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