Outrage of the Week: Before the Slumber Party, Paperwork

Hi Readers! In the category of “overkill” and “probably not representative of the culture as a whole, but still instructive,” and “wacko!” here’s an amazing post from the blog Doctor Grumpy in the House: A dad (Dr. Grumpy, I presume) was dropping off his daughter at a friend’s house for a sleepover when the mom halted him. She demanded he sign a legal waiver promising he would not sue

for over any injuries Marie might sustain in the course of a “normal slumber party” (whatever the hell that is).

Fill out a form listing what ER I wanted her taken to in the event of an emergency.

Fill out a paper listing medicine and food allergies (I can understand that part, actually), and any special dietary requirements.

List her pediatrician’s name and number.

There were even more blanks to fill in, and the mom was apparently angry Dr. Grumpy had not brought along his insurance card.

Now, I know: Most parents are not at all this worried or fanatical. But I did meet a dad who was asked to sign an insurance waiver when he dropped off his kid at a house where there was a trampoline, so this pre-fun paperwork could be the tip of the (don’t sue us if we hit an) iceberg.  Either way, it’s another example of the fear that puts walls between people when we see each other not as “all in this together” but as potential litigants on opposite sides of the aisle.

And can you imagine the psychological damage if the daughter tries to levitate and can’t? Or, God forbid, fails to see Mary Worth in the mirror? — Lenore (and thanks to Ian in Hamburg for the tip!)

66 Responses

  1. At that point, I’d say thanks but no, and take my kid our for an apology sundae. Either the mom is insane or her house is so preposterously dangerous that there is a serious concern that the kids won’t make it through the night.

  2. I was thinking the same thing, Greg. We would’ve left too. It reminds me of a few months back when I volunteered to work the snack bar for little league. It was like a job application. I had to give 3 personal and 3 work references, list my hobbies and professional skills, etc. I gave her the form back and said, “That’s ok. I’ll just enjoy the games.” The response, “It’s for the safety of the kids really. We can’t be too careful.” Well, they’re not gonna be too staffed either.

  3. I find myself of 2 minds (half of zero is still zero though) while trying to be a free range parent, I still worry about when all the neighborhood kids come over to our yard to play on the slide and swings I built for our kid, and to play tea-party in our patio, what if one of the other kids gets hurt? Society being as litigious as it is, will one of the parents sue me?

    I think there is some “adult business” that needs to be taken care of (making sure you have contact info, allergy info, etc) and maybe a liability waiver is a bit of a shock, but I don’t think that’s an issue that impact the kids is it? When you go to a sports event, especially professional, there is a waiver printed on the tickets indemnifying the team from any injuries you suffer (flying pucks, foul balls). I don’t know if that’s any worse?

    Paranoid fear of every stranger abducting/killing/molesting your child is one thing, the statics say it’s not going to happen (vs. the trade off of being afraid all the time) but someone getting hurt and then someone suing you and losing everything… that’s what I am scared of.

  4. If they knew better, what do you thinks the kids would say?

    To each other: WTF?!

    To their parents: Dudes, we just want to hang out.

    But it’s is somewhat understandable, even if it is just out of fear, what with everyone suing anyone for anything these days. It’s NOT the kids folks (when that’s all it should be about), it’s the parents themselves. For their own paranoid and selfish attitude.

    Makes normal and sane parents want to keep their children from hanging around kids with crazy parents. You never know what the parents are going to do.

  5. Actually way back in the ’70s I had a friend who had climbing apparatus and a trampoline. I wasn’t allowed on either until they had a note from my grandparents. They thought it was ridiculous, and I didn’t get to spend much time there.

    Another friend with a trampoline, who’s parents did not require a note, taught me how to jump out of the tree onto the trampoline. That was much fun for sure! Grandparents never learned of this pastime…

  6. Gee, I could fill all of this stuff out – or, if you are really worried about this stuff, you could just get to know us first.

    Seriously, if you really worry about the likelihood of parents freaking over normal kid behavior, you could get to know the parents. Pizza party for all families of kids’ friends, maybe?

    My kid spent the day at a friends’ house on Saturday and we discovered the the father is opposed to his kids ever having play dates at another family’s house – so all kids come to play at theirs. That will surely be successful come high school to these parents of four girls.

  7. “Or, God forbid, fails to see Mary Worth in the mirror?” That’s Bloody Mary. Now I’m gonna sue! (Mary Worth is a long-running and stunningly uninteresting comic strip.)

    Doesn’t this trend smack of ambulance chasing lawyers (as if there were any other kind) to you?

  8. The last sleepover my son went to, he got hit w/ a backpack zipper. that’s what they get for swinging bags at each other. He had a nice gash on his forehead. The mom in charge called me to tell me what happened and ask what I wanted to do. She said that her neighbor was a nurse, so he looked at the cut and said that it could probably use a stitch or two, but wasn’t serious. I talked to my son on the phone and he said that he felt fine but that everyone was making a big deal. He wanted to stay, so I let him stay. They put a butterfly bandaid on it. Surprisingly, no scar! (unlike the one on his cheek, which he got for running into a filing cabinet as a toddler).

    I don’t think the waiver is less free-range, but more like, ‘ I am free range and don’t want to get sued’.

  9. sorry…having a hard time getting follow-up comments.

  10. I like to think that I am as “free range” as anyone else, if not more so (heck, I taught my 6 year-old niece how to scuba dive, albeit in a pool). But, as a lawyer, and the husband of one, I’d have a hard time forgetting the myriad cases in the back of my mind where some poor sap was sued, e.g., because the teen he let mow his lawn gets hurt or hurts somone else; or because he thinks the kid who’s sleeping-over has a tummy ache when it’s really appendicitis. (And let’s not forget the mom blamed the Little League coach for not teaching kids how to slide properly.) And, of course, even the case is dismissed early on, there’s usually hundreds or a few thousand in legal fees, let alone any rise in insurance premiums. So I don’t blame the mom as I’d probably do the same thing.

  11. Question though CD: do you really think that waiver would save you from getting sued? If anything, I would think it would give people the idea, and send them looking for loopholes.

    And in fact, if someone asked you to sign something like that wouldn’t you want them to sign something you came up with, promising not to sue if your kid accidentally hurts their kid when the two kids mutually decide to have a backpack fight, complete with zippers?

  12. Strikes me as nuts.

    I’m assured that such waivers would only have any legal implication if signed by both parents (possibly in the presence of a notary). I suppose their existence might serve to persuade an otherwise litigious person from bringing suit …

    If I sign such a form, there’s nothing to prevent my husband from bringing a suit on behalf of our son …

  13. This is silly – its why you carry general liability insurance on your property. Also, the concept of acceptance of risk is not dead in the law. All the mom needs to do is explain what she is planning for the party – trampoline, etc and ask do you have a problem with little Sally participating? If the Dad says no problem, you’ve got a pretty solid defense – at least in the state I live in.

    But this is why you should only have sleep overs with kids from families you know pretty well.

  14. My whole family’s hardcore free range…but we have a trampoline AND a zip line in our backyard. The trampoline is net enclosed, and the zip line goes completely across the yard, about 15′ to about 3′. I worry CONSTANTLY that someone’s gonna fall off the zip and break an arm. Our homeowner’s ins. does not cover anything trampoline related (thank God they’ve not seen the zip line). And I’m afraid we’d get sued.

    So rather than take the “sign a release” route, I take the parents of new visiting kids out back and show them everything. I ask them point blank if their child is allowed, and mention that although no one’s been hurt so far…and if they say yes, I get their kid to try out the zip with us all watching. Each parent has thanked me for letting them know, and each one has said it’s fine for their kid to play on it. No lawsuits yet.

    It’s not a foolproof way to work the problem, but it’s the only solution I could live with. I’m not a sign-this-form kinda mom.

  15. A little offtopic, but I have to laugh at MaeMae’s post above re: background check for little league snack duty. If it’s for the safety of the children, then don’t they need to do background checks on everybody watching the game too?

    On topic, this is insane.

  16. I tried explaining that to them, Michelle, but just got blank stares all around.

  17. I agree the slumber party mom was out of line. My sister and Cousin give me medical POA’s for their kids, when I’m babysitting and they are going to be more than an hour away.

    When we were teens, a younger cousin was injured playing in a park. His Dad was on a construction site, and his mom was in a staff development class. The life guards at the neighboring pool called his grandmother. She determined he needed stitches.

    When the got to the ER they ran into a brick wall. He needed stitches – but the injury was not life threatening. So the ER would not treat him without parental consent. This was before cell phones were widely used.

    The family was deployed. People sent to the neighborhood the Dad was supervising to try and find him. Other cousins went to the university where the staff development was. It took 1.5 hours to find his Mom and get her to the hospital.

    Now we have cell phones, but if the parents are going to be out of town or more than an hour away they give the other family members paper work in case of an accident.

  18. It’s depressing, but I don’t blame her. Can we see some statistics on the likelihood of getting sued into bankrupsy (or beyond) for bullshit vs. kidnapping?

  19. The neighbor boys have a trampoline and several motorized vehicles along with a homemade dirt track in the backyard.

    My guys have since been gifted with a go-kart. Those boys wanted my guys to come over with their go-kart and run around on their backyard track. The mother wanted me to first sign a waiver. Not only sign one, but write it myself promising to not sue. Ironically, in the years leading up to the dirt track, those boys rode in my yard, carefully avoiding their own nice grass in favor of tearing up what counts as my lawn. The mother did not approach me, she sent the message regarding the waiver via her 12 year old.

    I did not write a waiver. I’m reasonably sure it wouldn’t be legally binding even if I did. My kids do not ride at her house. Oddly, that family also has a trampoline and yet they never had a problem with my kids on it.

  20. As a parent and soon to be lawyer, I can sympathize with the hosting mother. While a sad commentary on society that things have have gotten to this point, the reality is that it has come to that point. I agree that having to sign a waiver is ridiculous. However, for every one of us that says it is ridiculous, there is an opposite parent on the other side that gets the proverbial dollar signs in their eyes when something does happen.

  21. Maybe she just shouldn’t host a slumber party if she’s that uptight. Why invite the kids of people you don’t even know to spend the night in your house? I generally know the parents of my kids’ friends, and, if I don’t know them, I’m not inviting them to sleep over or having my child sleep over there. It sounds like she just had a bunch of kids overnight she doesn’t know the families of at all. Maybe she should get out of the slumber party business.

  22. Well, if I was presented with a form for a slumber party, we’d leave. And no, I won’t be filling out a job application to volunteer at a little league. I guess I won’t be volunteering too much. Oh well!

  23. I’m a reasonable person, married to another reasonable person raising reasonable children. We’ve never sued anyone and can’t imagine doing so.

    When our kids have gotten banged up, we’ve kissed the boo-boos, bandaged what needed to be bandaged, occasionally put casts on what needed a cast, and moved on.

    Either way, if this had happened to us, I wouldn’t allow my child to stay. If the parent doesn’t know me well enough or is so consumed with this sort of thing that they went to the trouble of drafting a waver, I don’t think my child should be in their home. Either way, I’d be calling their judgment into question.

    Finally, even if the paper was signed, would it be legal? Can you sign away your child’s right to sue?

  24. One of my friends had a mishap at his house. His older daughters friends were over with thier young kid. She, the kid, started playing on the weight set, my friend asked the parents to keep her away from the set. No big deal. My friend left the room. No sooner than he did then the kid broke a tooth (a baby tooth) on the weight bench. The parents sued him and his house for $100,000. He was livid. They said don’t worry, insurance will cover it. Well, my friend decided to take it court and after a jury trial not only did the court find the parents negligant but they had to pay his lawyers fees and more.

    What ever happened to personal responsibilty? What ever happened to actually watching your kids when invited to someones home AFTER they ask you too?

    Wonder if he will ever host friends over again! I can see a wavier in his future!

  25. I could see the waiver if there was anything particularly risky that the kids would be around, and I’d probably list the specific things on the paper, because as someone else noted, just because someone signed saying he won’t sue doesn’t mean he won’t sue, if something really unpredictable or ridiculous (from the signer’s perspective) happened. That said, I would not present it as “come over and play, oh wait, sign this paper.” I’d present it as “I have a __ in my yard and I want to make sure parents are fully aware and fully OK with having their kids around it, possibly without an adult close by. So nobody goes in that area of the yard until I have their parents’ OK.”

    But barring specific known risk issues, I would not sign. Instead, I’d ask them what exactly she’s worried about. Has something happened to a child on her property before, and if so, what, when, how did they remedy it, etc.? Since I’m asked to sign this waiver, does that mean she’s not planning to supervise the kids at all? Do they have all the required licenses to operate whatever it is that my kid could potentially get hurt around? May I see the deed to the property, just to make sure they actually have a right to be there? In other words, get real.

    If I did decide to let my kid stay after that, I’d give them my cell phone number and any relevant personal issues such as allergies. That’s it. There is nothing else they would need that they couldn’t get by dialing my cell phone. If you are a parent, I assume you know when a call to 911 is appropriate.

    Seriously, if you’re that paranoid about having an ordinary sleepover, don’t have one!

    Oh, and don’t present me with that crap at the door when my kid is with me. Call me first so I can have a reasoned adult conversation with you.

  26. I wouldn’t leave my kid there. Either they’re nuts, or they’re dangerous. We’d go out and do something else fun to make up for it.

  27. …the hell?

    I just hosted a slumber party over the weekend for my youngest son’s birthday celebration. He had 14 friends over. There was no waiver for anyone to sign, just a post-it handed to each kid: “Put your name, your Mom’s name, and her phone number on this and stick it to the fridge. Just in case you do something dumb and I have to duct tape you back together.”

    The kids thought that was hilarious, everyone complied, and the worst thing that happened was that they all stayed up til 7AM playing video games.

    For the love of Dog, people, “waivers” like that don’t hold any legal weight. Carry decent homeowner’s insurance, supervise the guests your Monsters bring home, and don’t be such a Nervous Nelly. It’s a sleepover, not sky diving.

  28. @Kimberly I had a friend who had the same thing happen with a broken arm (we were kids, she broke her arm, couldn’t get medical treatment ’til someone tracked down her mom who was away with my friend’s sister). So, yes, it is worthwhile to provide caregivers with a document granting them the right to authorize care, assuming you’d want them to be able to do so. At least in our state, I believe such things need to be notarized.

    Ironic, in that no one’s ever asked me to provide proof that I’m my son’s mom (or my dad’s daughter, and I’ve been in both situations) before I authorize treatment for him, but there you go …

  29. I can understand the fear of being sued (I hate our litigious society), but I have to wonder if waivers are just going to increase litigation craziness.

  30. Dr. Grumpy should have asked her for a copy of her homeowners policy to see exactly what was covered and how much liability she had.

    Waivers are not worth the paper they’re written on. If someone wants to sue, they will.

    BTW – when my daughter was in 3rd grade she fell off the rings at her gymnastics class and broke both wrists and an elbow. All I asked the gym for was to reimburse any of my out of pocket expenses. Boy, weren’t they lucky it happened to me!

  31. You guyyyyyyyyyyyssssss… Dr Grumpy is about the most sarcastic person on the internet. This is a joke. I repeat, this is only a joke.

    Chill Winston.

  32. Off topic from the legal side of things, but my son was recently invited to a birthday sleepover. I dropped him off to play with around 12 other kids. When I arrived to pick him up the next day there were only 3 kids there. I asked the mother had they all been picked up already and the mother replied that no, they simply hadn’t been allowed to stay as they “were too young, and most of them had never spent a night away from their parents”. They were 8 year olds. Imagine never having spent a night away from your 8 year old child!

  33. I was probably about 7 or 8 before I had my first none family* sleep over – but I had medical issues that had to be dealt with. My parents had to be sure I could stand up to and adult telling me to eat something that I was allergic to.

    My niece had a sleep over this weekend – the kids were 4 – 5 yo.

    *Family included a group of Aunts and Uncles that weren’t legal family but had been around me since birth and “got” that allergies are deadly in my case.

  34. Andrea, I have never spent a night away from my 8 year old for the simple reason that he doesn’t want to sleep away from us. He has had friends sleep over here, and he can sleep at a friends home anytime he wants, but he just has no desire to do so.

  35. Yes, Kimberly, medical issues are something one has to consider. If my son didn’t know how to charge his batteries and keep his cochlear implant processor safe, I wouldn’t allow him to sleep over at friends, either. Without those, he can’t hear, and they cost $10,000 a piece…gotta keep them safe.

  36. Am I glad we don’t have that sort of thing here. You can’t sue anyone here, only ACC can do that and only if they think it is warranted will anything further happen and that goes through OSH.

    Accidents are just that mostly and should be treated as such. BTW treatment is free here too. There is a levy on all jobs to pay for this which is quite reasonable (I think mine as a self employed person was about $170 a year.)

    viv in nz

  37. Suggestion: the next time someone asks you to sign a waiver like that, go ahead and sign it – but print the words “signed under duress” next to your signature. Then hand the paper back to them, and enjoy what happens next. What I’ve noticed is that they mostly stand there agape with an expression on their face that suggests they are about to defecate the type of concrete masonry unit that is typically used in residential construction. That’s just not a permutation that people have considered as being within the realm of possible outcomes to a waiver-signing request. The few times I’ve done it, they’ve wordlessly accepted the “signed” waiver and NOT asked me to leave the premises. But if they DO ask me to leave, then what they’re really doing is setting the stage for me to teach my child a very valuable lesson. A full and discrete lesson from an important perspective, since the decision for us to part company then becomes their objective decision and not my subjective choice.

  38. This reminds me of when my little brother came over to spend the night (he’s 16 years younger than me), and he asked me if he could go and play next door. A few minutes later he came back and asked if he could ride on the next door neighbor’s 4-wheeler. I said sure. A few minutes later he came back with a release form. At this point I told him they were crazy and just to stay home. I mean really, you need a release form? What are you planning on doing?

  39. If someone is going to sue, they are probably going to try to prove negligence, in which case the waiver wouldn’t hold up anyway.

  40. I could understand asking for any medical info like allergies or whatnot; I’m allergic to mustard which seems innocuous enough, but it turns up in unusual places (like commercially prepared mayo for example) so staying at friend’s houses growing up was always an adventure. Honestly though, if I were faced with that while dropping off my kid, I probably wouldn’t let my daughter stay. I understand the fear of being sued, but as several commenters noted, that’s why you have homeowner’s insurance. And it certainly covers a slew of things…my parent’s Great Dane ran after a Mazda RX-8 that was turning around in their driveway and when she stopped suddenly, he ran into it and actually dented the darn thing. Homeowner’s insurance covered it since it was still on the property and everyone was happy. So waivers for slumber parties aren’t necessary. I did like that one mom’s post it note thing…that’s a great idea and probably all the info you really need.

  41. Absurd, I would have said no thank you.

  42. Oh God you kill me Lenore! Fail to levitate?! – that’s so great!! We so did that at every slumber party – too funny!!

  43. When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, we got an above ground pool at our house. My Dad tried this same thing on the first friend I ever invited over. She never came to my house again. It was really annoying and totally ruined any chance of any social life I would ever have. 😦

  44. “That’s Bloody Mary. Now I’m gonna sue!”

    I’d never heard of this, but Google is my friend. I found a site that described it.

    What was funny, though, was the article about the game was replete with warnings that you might get scared and if somebody doesn’t want to play, it’s okay…

  45. Obviously the whole thing is silly. But I think asking for a waiver is infinitely better than just refusing to do anything fun because it might be dangerous.

  46. I think it’s crazy – but then again, it would never even occur to me to sue the parents of my kids friends if they had an accident while at their house. I think over here it would probably be thrown out of court anyway (and we don’t have giant medical bills to worry about).

    My DD (7) had a sleepover a couple of weeks ago. The girl that stayed over does have allergies (not the deadly kind, at least I don’t think so), and when her mum dropped her off I simply asked her what she could and couldn’t eat. The answer was that the girl knew what she could eat, and would let me know. It was only a couple of hours later I remembered she is allergic to cats (we have one). I called her mum, she dropped off the medicine, and everything was fine.

  47. Welcome to sue happy America, where children are liabilities and fun means a potential lawsuit.

  48. […] Had to share this madness… By korinaivatt Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/outrage-of-the-week-before-the-slumber-party-paperwork… […]

  49. I find it funny that a group of people supposedly against the belief that the world is such a dangerous place all buy into the false notion that the world is such a litigious place – speaking of the comments here, not the party mom who is clearly not a free range mom. I’m in the court system every day and there are about as many random, frivolous lawsuits as there are random stranger kidnappings. Yes, it absolutely happens. Yes, the press gets wind of them occasionally. More often than not, the press gets wind of an odd but meritorious lawsuit and spins it so that the public believes that people are getting millions of dollars for stubbing their toes on a daily basis (ie the McDonald’s coffee case).

    Everyone says “sue happy America” much like everyone says “the world is such a dangerous place.” It is basically the same thing – an impression from the media as to this with no definitive evidence of such. Frankly, 95% of law suits are simply to get an insurance company to pay something that they should be paying. If your child falls on my property, my home owners insurance should pay for the injuries. I can’t make them do it. If the insurance refuses to pay, your options are to pay the bills out of your own pocket (often your own health insurance company won’t pay if there is another responsible party) or sue me – not my insurance company, me. My insurance company then steps in to defend me and pays any losses. It’s a completely messed up system but the insurance company banks on your refusing to deal with the hassle of suing and lowballs offers.

  50. Medical permissions with doctors’ phone numbers, I could see. I do that for my mil when she watches the kids overnight and we’re out of town. She’s never asked me to do this, I just think it’s a useful precaution.

    Releases, no stinkin’ way. If people don’t know/trust me enough to be able to handle something that comes up amicably, I don’t know/trust them enough to have my kids overnight in their private home.

    And even with the medical stuff, there are MUCH better, more polite and human ways of handling it other than waiting until the kid is dropped off and then saying, “Sign this or take your kids home.” If you feel something like this is necessary, you handle it by saying, when the invitation is given or confirmed, “Oh, by the way, I’d appreciate it if you could write down your doctor’s phone number and give me a note saying I can get emergency care for her, when you drop her off. I’m sure there won’t be any problem, but I’d hate for treatment to be an issue if there would be.” IOW, you treat your guests’ parents like friends you want to spare trouble, not like threats to your legal well-being.

  51. This would make an interesting chapter to a 2nd Edition. America does have a reputation of being litigious, but usually I think things work out. Lawsuits that make the news are as exceptional as crimes. Statistics from insurance companies might be a good way to tackle real research. This is another case where the facts might help this poor, paranoid host relax a bit.

    To me it seems that requiring a signed waiver before a slumber party simply primes the pump to litigation by keeping legal recourse in the front of everyone’s minds.

  52. I agree with the N people above who said ‘that’s crazy.’ All that’s really needed is contact information (e.g., those clever post-its) in case it’s needed, and a couple of pieces of additional data (doctor name, say) if the parents will be unavailable.

    We do keep a partly filled-out medical release form on hand, for times when our son will be spending an extended period of time at a friend or relative’s house–it lists contact information, handy neighbors, doctor name and number, etc., and states that we give permission for the temporary psuedoparent to seek medical care. The latter feels like a “duh” thing, but that’s just in case it’s demanded by a doctor or hospital. Likewise, if we’ll be acting as psuedoparents of a child for an extended period of time we may ask that the parents fill out the same. But it does NOT have a “do not sue” clause–that’s just crazy! 🙂

  53. I think this is a fantastic idea. There’s no better way to showcase the absolute stupidity of banning childhood than for helicopter parents to have to sign a waiver releasing other people from liability for allowing their precious, breakable little darlings to be children.

  54. Donna, great post! Thanks for the legal insight.

    I understand the mother in question wanting to know the medical issues but the other things are bizarre and defy common sense. I don’t know if it is the same everywhere, but here if you call an ambulance you rarely get to choose which ER to go to — it is whatever is the closest available and/or most appropriate. If the child does not need an ambulance, then there is enough time to call the parent and ask what to do.

    An insurance card is not needed for life threatening emergency care; otherwise, the parent should have enough time to either pick up the kid himself or meet someone at the hospital. I would tell the mom that I don’t give out insurance info because I am worried about someone using information for insurance fraud and see what she says then.

    The Girl Scouts in my area are really crazy about stuff like this. If leaders go anywhere with the girls, they need to have at least 2 adults, one must be a trained leader, the other must be a leader or other adult who is CPR trained. You cannot have one trained leader who is also CPR trained and a helpful parent. (Presumably so one can do the CPR while the other supervises the remaining kids). I could have one trained leader who knows CPR and five parents and that will not be acceptable. I can understand if we were going hiking or camping,had limited access to 911 and needed adults who know outdoor skills, but I would have to do this for a trip to a museum in the next state. (about 1/2 hour to an hour away, not a huge trip)

    They also have to fill out a form each time giving permission to go and asking date of last tetanus shot. Even assuming that stepping on a rusty nail is likely to happen this is ridiculous considering that a tetanus vaccine is required in our state for school so either the child has had the vaccine (not many homeschoolers in my area) or the parents don’t believe in vaccines. I would be less irritated if the form simply asked if the kids have received vaccines as required by schools. Even so, tetanus is not something you need right away like an epipen or insulin; you can stand to wait a little bit until a parent is notified.

  55. My son went to his first non-family sleepover at age 8 (no waiver required for the giant water slide that ended in a pool.) The family did have two friendly dogs who liked to jump. No problem with that except my son is very nervous around barking and jumping dogs. The family refused to lock the dogs up. Initially, I was very worried. I thought I would get the “please come get me” call any second. My son lasted through the entire night and was extremely proud of himself. I thought I was “a little free range” trying to let my son resolve his own issues.

    The waiver thing seems kind of silly to me but I sign one of those at every camp I send him to. I wouldn’t let my annoyance of a waiver get in the way of him having fun.

  56. A waiver is bull hockey and a decent lawyer would have it trashed in about ten seconds flat. Mom’s not protecting her personal assets against litigation, she’s an overprotective, overthinking nincompoop who’s watched way too much television.

    As for “which ER?”, hasn’t she heard of the TELEPHONE? Any house our 13-year-old plays at, we’ve got their number, they’ve got ours. If my kid gets hurt, I want a phone call, not a trip to the ER.

    I can understand the allergy thing, especially at a party. Although it seems to me that you could get to the same place by having an actual conversation with the parents of the kids invited along the lines of “We’ll be having pizza and root beer early in the evening, chips and salsa later on, and chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for breakfast, with OJ and milk. Any allergies there?”

    The problem with assuming that just because SOME people are litigious or stupid or overprotective (or all three), ALL people are litigious, stupid, and overprotective, and thus everything has to be solved with written waivers and obligations and lawyers lurking in the background, is that all that stuff is a terrible way to build a community.

    I’m struck by the inability of some people to see beyond the idea that the world is awful and scary and horrible and we have to protect ourselves — at the expense of having friends and neighbors.

  57. When my son was pre-school age, most of the playdates he had were with kids whose parents who were our friends or parents we met through those friends. I told them that If my son is at a play date and he gets hurt and it is not an emergency, call me. If it is an emergency, call an ambulance first and then call me. I trusted them and they trusted me to make that decision. As a professional firefighter and EMT, I was willing to offer them advice as to the difference between an emergency and a “boo-boo.”
    When my son went to school and started playing with kids of parents I didn’t know, I could rely only upon his ability to use his judgement about what was relatively safe and what was crazy dangerous–and hope that we had taught him enough self-confidence and courage to opt out of what was crazy dangerous. Somehow he survived.

  58. I was talking about summer vacations yesterday and one of the moms I was talking to mentioned how difficult it was to find child care during the summer for the older kids…the 11 and 12 year olds. I mentioned that I thought by the age 11, most kids could stay by themselves and everyone looked at me like I was nuts. Geeez. When I was 10 I was babysitting. When I was 11 and 12 I was riding my bike all over the place, on busy roads, without supervision. My parents knew I was responsible. They taught me well.

  59. If we were in relationship with each other we would trust each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt and know that some times accidents happen and not take each other to court. Community, community, community. Friends don’t take friends to court.

  60. […] Slumber party liability waivers are something we’ve reported on before. But home trampoline disclaimers? [Free-Range Kids] […]

  61. I found this story as I was searching for info on my own situation. My daughter has friends 2 doors down that have a trampoline. Their kids and her friends, including my daughter, have been jumping on the trampoline with no issues…nothing said by their parents and nothing said by me. Suddenly my daughter comes home one day and says that I need to sign a sheet from them that says she can jump on their trampoline. Since she didn’t have it with her, I blew it off and said I’d look at it when she brought it to me but having a pretty good idea of what it would say.

    Today she brought me the “form” asking me to sign it. She happened to also have a friend over for a play date and wanted me to sign one for her as well. I told my daughter that I couldn’t sign one for her friend because I’m not her parent. And then I told her I wouldn’t sign one for her (out of the presence of the other kids) because they are trying to remove themselves from being liable. While I highly doubt the “form” would stand in a court of law, what also came to mind were 2 things.

    1) These parents should be doing some supervising, in my opinion, just to make sure they aren’t jumping off the roof. I felt like they weren’t taking ANY responsibility for having the trampoline. Yes I’m responsible for my child, but I don’t know how responsible these parents are or what they might let their kids do.

    2) They told the kids that there was some change in the law and that’s why they had to do it. I’ve yet to find anything that indicates any type of change. My gut says their insurance co found out they have one and their rates were going to be insane unless they had waivers signed.

    So now my daughter doesn’t understand why the other kids’ parents signed it but I won’t.

  62. Wowsers.

    I have no experience as yet with my own kids going to non-family sleepovers (my eldest isn’t quite 7), but I’ve had several kids stay over here, aged 7-12, at various times and all I ever *thought* to ask for was a) numbers where parents could be contacted and b) allergy / food intolerance information (I’m Coeliac myself, so pretty aware of that as an issue).

    We have a trampoline in our yard and not only do I let my own kids (almost 7 and 5) play on it without me standing by, I let the neighbour kids do so too. Without any waivers or whatnot. The parents / guardians all know we have the tramp and I’ve checked that they are OK with the kids being on it. Isn’t that enough? It seems like it ought to be. (I am in Australia, btw – less paranoid about litigation here I think).

  63. While I think the form releasing the parents from being sued is a little over the top, I think it was smart of her to ask about the child’s primary doctor, allergies, and food requirements. I remember my mom giving anyone who was watching us for an extended period of time (overnight or longer) a slip of paper allowing them to seek medical treatment for us in case of an accident. Doctors just won’t treat kids unless it’s an emergency, which can make for a few uncomfortable hours while the parents are tracked down.

  64. You really just never know these days! I am now in the process of being sued by an old friend of 25 years. I was babysitting her daughter 6+ years ago and she fell off of a little tykes plastic slide and broke her elbow in my backyard. We were friends up until last week, I received a call from her informing me that her attorney would be calling me for my homeowners insurance. She has full medical coverage and now is letting the bills accumulate, instead of submitting them to her medical carrier insurance company. My homeowners insurance company will pay $1000 in medical bills but that is it. Now, do not get me wrong, I love her daughter and still do but this is more about greed and money. Why wait 6 years? I offered to help her with the bills but she said,” Who knows what future medical costs she may endure.” I have heard her complain about finances, while in the same breath booking cruises and racking up credit cards on other frivolous crap. Guaranteed she thought that she would be receiving a fat pay out to cover her lifestyle. Being that she is in the middle of another claim/suit that she isn’t winning, so, why not go after a friend.

    After speaking to my claims rep, they said she would have to prove negligence to be compensated for any personally liability on my part. There was no negligence on my part. The 2ft slide was on my grass in perfect condition. Not to mention, 6 years after the fact, her daughter and son still came over to my home for play dates. With that said, good luck to her on this. I really feel like I lost a good friend, but at the same time who needs enemies with a friend like that!!

  65. Two notes:
    1) The post seems to have been taken down
    2) From what I have been able to gather, I think Dr. Grumpy may be a ‘her’.

  66. From what one remembers, there was a Calvin and Hobbes strip where, among other things, Hobbes informed Calvin that “If your friends are contractual, then you don’t have any.”

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