May a Parent Stop You From Holding Birthday Parties?

How would you handle this situation?

While talking with a parent who wants to enroll in your program she tells you that she is a Jehovah’s Witness. She says she doesn’t believe in her child attending any birthday parties.

Federal anti-discrimination law says you cannot discriminate against parents or children because of their religion.

So, you cannot tell this parent that you won’t care for her child because she is a Jehovah’s Witness.

However, you don’t have to agree to the wishes of parents who wants you to follow her religious beliefs.

How to respond?

So, you can respond, “You are welcome to attend my program. I will continue to have birthday parties. I’ll be happy to notify you about them ahead of time but I won’t be changing my program.”

Or you can respond, “You are welcome to attend my program. I am willing to reduce the number of birthday parties to try to make your child feel more comfortable.”

It’s up to you. You are not required to change your program to meet the religious beliefs of parents.

You are also free to offer any type of religious activities in your program.

So, you can advertise your program as a Christian or Jewish or Muslim child care program. You can pray with children, offer Bible lessons, and follow your own religious beliefs.

You can even run an anti-religious/atheist program (“Witches Child Care”)!

Even though you can’t deny care to a family because of their religious beliefs, you can enforce your rules against them, like all other families. So, you can terminate a parent who is a Jehovah’s Witness if they don’t pay on time or violate your contract or policies, as long as you are treating all parents in the same situation consistently.


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Tom Copeland

I've been the nation's leading trainer, author, and advocate on the business of family child care since 1981. I'm a licensed attorney and have presented hundreds of business workshops for family child care providers across the country. I answer thousands of calls and emails each year to help providers, tax professionals and trainers understand complex business and tax issues. Call me at 651-280-5991. Email me at tomcopeland@live.com. Visit me on Facebook. From 1981 to 2009 I worked at Resources for Child Caring in Minnesota (now called Think Small), where I was director of Redleaf National Institute for 15 years. I've written nine books on the business of family child care published by Redleaf Press, a division of Resources for Child Caring. I was on the board of directors of First Children's Finance, a non-profit organization providing low interest loans and consulting and technical assistance to help family child care providers suceed as a business. They operate in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas. Here are some YouTube videos of me talking about my work with this organization and the business of family child care. I graduated from Macalester College (BA) in 1972 and from William Mitchell College of Law (JD) in 1980. I live in St. Paul, Minnesota with my wife Diane and two cats, Duke and Ella.