Play Dates and the Law

by Samantha on February 12, 2012



Some time back, I wrote about the pressures that parents face in coordinating play dates for their kids. I’m definitely one of those moms that doesn’t have her act together enough to deliver the reciprocity to other parents for their hosting my child for an afternoon of fun and games. And I know that I’m not alone in this. The unwritten but completely expected rule is that of give and take: I take your kid, you take mine. It’s supposed to be a mutually-beneficial dance that results in a few hours of peace for the parent whose child is out for a few hours. 

Nonetheless, it’s difficult to keep up the pace, especially when you have other kids to tend to, groceries to buy and houses to clean. And let’s not forget the dreaded laundry.

Anyway, there is now yet another stress that has been put upon parents in relation to the whole play date thing.

Waivers.

That’s right – legal waivers that parents must sign in order for the play date to go on.

What on earth is this world coming to?

I read this post on one of my favourite sites, Free Range Kids and couldn’t believe what I was reading, quite frankly. Now, with some parents, if you even think about coordinating a play date, you had better be prepared to sign a legal waiver that absolves the hosting parent of any liability.

Unbelievable.

Like we don’t have enough to worry about with the day-to-day chores and responsibilities inherent in parenting, now we must worry about

a) Injury and possibly worse for our children, as they visit another child’s home, and

b) The spectre of legal action – or not – following said injury

This is crazy.

For the record, I think that this is an example of parenting gone awry. 
What should be a pleasant date between young children has been elevated to the level of potential criminality and culpability.

What exactly are the said dangers to which the visiting child would be subjected? If they are so perilous, then perhaps the parent should reconsider the play date altogether. But that’s just my opinion.

Image courtesy of http://divorcelawsinohio.com/

We have become an increasingly litigious society and as a result, this trait is now encompassing all areas of our lives, even parenting. While on one hand, I can completely understand the need to protect our little ones as best we can, isn’t it going a bit too far in providing a four-page document in what is likely undeterminable legalese for a tired mom who is just looking for some engaging activity for their kid on a Saturday afternoon? Have we devolved to a level where we now look at each and every transaction, be it with our kids, fellow parents or otherwise, as a potential event where lawyers may be involved and money may be exchanged? What has happened to us as parents, and on a larger plane, as a society at large?

I long for the good old days where legalities, political correctness and parental neurosis took a backseat to good old-fashioned fun. It’s far too complicated to be a mom or dad in this day and age, and in light of this waiver and similar parenting imperatives, we’re stressed and worried like never before.

We’ve been having kids for millennia and similarly coordinating play dates in one way or another for an equally long period of time. Surprisingly, we’ve survived as a species, for the most part, further proof in my estimation that these waivers and similar documents are unnecessary and downright ridiculous.

What do you think? Should parents provide and sign waivers in advance of play dates for their children? Would you sign one or provide one to other parents?



VIDEO: How to Deal With Playdates

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