A birthday cake being lit with children in the background


I Don’t Want To Sign A Contract So My Kid Can Go To Your Party

Mar 1, 2019

I love it when my kids are invited to birthday parties and I get to discover all of the crazy options I never had.

A birthday party at a rock climbing gym? Fun. Cuddle with an animal at the humane society? Sweet. A cooking party where the kids bring home dinner? Yes, please!

One thing I don’t love: the contracts that sometimes come with them.

Related Reading: A Pox On Loot Bags — I’m Done With Party Favours

My youngest was recently invited to a birthday party and the contract that was attached to the invitation read like something that came out of a third-year law class. Would I waive my moral rights to any pictures taken? Would I hold the organization harmless? Would I pay their legal fees if a third party happened to sue them for something my child may or may not have done?

I wanted my daughter to go to her friend’s birthday party — I just didn’t want to risk losing my house so that she could attend.

And I’m not even talking about the waivers needed for trampoline parks or rock-climbing gyms either. The party my youngest was invited to was fairly tame — gathering in a party room where they would eat some cake and do some activities.

“Have you read this contract?” I asked my husband as my youngest pleaded with me to just sign the paper already.

I wanted my daughter to go to her friend’s birthday party — I just didn’t want to risk losing my house so that she could attend. Yes, I know boilerplate contracts are all the rage, but do we really need contracts for kids’ birthday parties? Whatever happened to common sense and common courtesy?

It’s not just birthday parties, either. Whenever my kids bring home a permission form to go on a field trip, there’s always an extra form stapled to it. On that sheet of paper, I have to tick a box to acknowledge that, yes, I know there are inherent risks in any field trip. And yes, I do know that I can buy insurance for my child, but no, I don't want it.

I normally sign that paper without thinking twice. But when the contract came stapled with the birthday party invite, I hesitated.

Related Reading: 4 Birthday Party Etiquette Tips For Parents

“Is this the hill you want to die on?” my husband asked as I pored over the contract and told him what it all really meant.

“That’s not the point,” I said. “It’s the principle.”

I would let our youngest go, I decided, but scratch out the parts of the contract I didn’t agree with.

When the day of the party arrived, my husband offered to take our daughter. I told him to hold firm. I told him not to sign the contract as is. When he arrived at the party location, the front desk staff asked if he had signed the contract. He hadn’t, he said. But he soon did. When our youngest came home giddy and full of cake, I asked her how the party went.

“It was awesome!”

"Did anyone take your picture?" I asked her. "Did you spill water on the floor causing someone to trip? Did you accidentally elbow another kid in the eye?"

“No,” she said looking at me like I had three heads.

“It was so fun!” she squealed. “Can I have my birthday party there next year?”

This post was updated for clarification on March 4, 2019.

Article Author Kelly Pedro
Kelly Pedro

Kelly Pedro is a former journalist turned freelance writer who specializes in writing about education, health and literacy. Her work has appeared in several publications including The London Free Press, The Toronto Star and Today’s Parent. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband, three children and Juno, the Bernese mountain dog. Connect with Kelly on her website, Twitter, LinkedIn or Alignable.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.