When taking care of a minor with permission of the parents, what is the legal force of any rules the parents set?

For example, if I look after someone's child, and they tell me the child may not climb trees, or may not drink alcohol or may not see a specific friend, and I allow or do this nonetheless, what are the legal consequences?

Would that be a crime? Or only a civil wrong? Would it depend on whether the child actually suffers harm as a consequence? Would it depend whether I personally violate the rules (e.g. by personally handing over alcohol), or if I just tolerate something?

I am particularly interested in answers about Germany, but other jurisdictions are welcome.

This was inspired by the question What are the drinking age laws in Germany?

  • 2
    I highly doubt it would be illegal unless the violation is illegal itself (regardless of the wishes of the parent). If you don't trust someone else, don't sent your kids there.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 22, 2023 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


To answer my own question:

No, there is no law that generally makes the parents' rules binding for someone else.

If a child is harmed, the caretaker could be prosecuted for endangering the child (StGB §171), but that is independent of the parents' rules (and would apply to the parents, too).

One case where the parents' rules do matter is the case of giving alcohol to a minor. There is a specific law (Jugendschutzgesetz) about this, which explicitly prohibits offering alcohol to minors - but only "in public", and the rule does not apply if an accompanying legal guardian gives permission. So in this specific case, the parents' rules do matter, but in the other direction - something normally illegal becomes legal if the parents allow it.

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    Note that if there is a (preferably written) contract between you and the parents stating the rules and conditions of your supervision you could be in breach of contract.
    – quarague
    Mar 4 at 14:23

Putting any child in danger can be illegal. If you were told the child had a peanut allergy and you fed them peanuts, you could be violating laws such as child endangerment to involuntary manslaughter (if the child dies). However, letting them see a friend or climbing a tree is likely not breaking any laws, just the child parent's trust.

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