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You might need to sign one of these before your kid's next play date

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Negotiating the world of play dates can be a challenge at the best of times. Do your children actually get along? Do you really want to spend time with the mom or dad over a coffee? Is an hour too early to leave?

Enter an additional glitch: Are you prepared to sign a legal waiver?

According to a piece from Today Moms, parents visiting neighbours – in some cases, those with trampolines – are being asked to say they won't sue should their child break an arm, or over any other calamity.

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Writer Jacoba Urist pointed to a Miss Manners column in the Washington Post, in which a reader inquires how to deal with being asked to sign a parental waiver before her son went over to a classmate's home. "Miss Manners wasn't too hot on them," said Ms. Urist.

Ms. Urist also spoke with Melissa Livingston, a mother of two in Long Island, who was asked to sign a release-of-liability right on a birthday invite.

"I wanted to run it by a lawyer to know exactly what I was getting into, but now I see them all the time," she told Ms Urist, who is also a lawyer.

Her advice? If the waiver's about a bouncy castle rented for a birthday party, for instance, it may be more about the company's insurance policy – not the parents.

But if it's just a routine play date?

"In this case, try to explain your position to the host – that you understand kids will be kids, and that you're not big on the whole waiver idea for personal interactions. You can also see whether there's a specific safety concern, like having another child in their pool, and if so, assure her that you guys are prepared to stay on dry land for the afternoon," wrote Ms. Urist. "If she's still not satisfied? Maybe sign it this once, and hang out with another mom in the future."

What would you do if a parent asked you to sign a waiver before playing with their child?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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