I’ve been hearing whispers lately of parents asking other parents to sign a waiver before their child comes over to play, or before their kid is dropped off at little Suzie’s birthday party. At first I thought it was a joke. Surely parents aren’t that nuts, I thought. Sure, many of us are a bit more uptight, shall we say, about our children’s safety than in generations past. But a waiver? That’s just a whole other level of insanity. Turns out it’s a thing.
In a recent Miss Manners column in the Washington Post, for instance, a reader wrote in with the following:
“My son is invited to spend time in the home of one of his classmates. The classmate’s parents request that I sign a release of liability before my son arrives. I think this is unbelievably rude — as if to imply that I would sue them if there is an accident or injury! Am I overreacting, or has our society really come to believe that anyone who visits your home, and is injured, will sue?”
She replied by wondering “what goes in that household that such a precaution is necessary?” though that’s not how I see it all. I see it as this classmate’s parents being ridiculously paranoid, plain and simple (I wouldn’t leave my child there unattended, that’s for sure).
And at one of my favorite sites, Free Range Kids, a mother writes in asking to deal with a playdate waiver (yes, a playdate waiver) she was asked to sign by a new neighbor. It was actually four pages long and referred specifically to the trampoline in their backyard (death trap!).
Look, I get that parents don’t want to be sued. Who does? But to ask your kids’ friends’ parents to sign a liability waiver pre-playdate is just absurd. What ever happened to just having some faith? That said, many indoor playgrounds, for example, asks parents to sign a waiver (I think I had to sign one for my son’s birthday party at a trampoline place). That’s different, though, as it’s a business as opposed to someone’s home.
The truth is, kids get hurt. It’s a part of childhood. Our job as parents is to help avoid injuries as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean we should be hovering over our kids 24/7. And it certainly doesn’t mean we should be asking our friends to sign waivers every time they drop little Johnny off at our house for a playdate. Has the world gone mad?