In view of the various debates around the place
I thought I'd put a some words down on kids as SF cons in general and SwanCon in particular.
Am I, personally, interested in kids programming? No. Am I, personally, interested in the creche and other initiatives designed to support parents who are fans attending SwanCon? No.
Am I opposed to such measures? HELL NO!!!!!!
Look, there will be times at SwanCon when it is inappropriate for kids to be present, or for them to be making an excessive racket [Aside: the definition of "excessive" will change from time to time]. But, equally, there will be other times when the presence of kids will not only be perfectly fine but an added joy to the convention. Back in 2001 I had a flight from Singapore to Melbourne in the front economy cabin (the smallish one) and there were a couple of toddlers in there.
Watching those kids do laps around the cabin was probably the most fun I've had on a plane ever. Every so often I'd see a toddler wander past, and occasionally said toddler would fall flat on his/her face, think this was great fun, get up and go for another lap. Meanwhile Mum or Dad would be gamely in pursuit, also with smiles on their faces. It didn't take much of that before I was smiling at the kids and waving as they went past. :)
Sure, that flight could have been horrible had the kids not been in the mood but even so I'm sure the parents would have done their best to minimise the impact on others, and I'm sure the flight attendants would have helped in any way possible.
And that's about where I'm at when it comes to kids at conventions:
1. Absent evidence to the contrary I assume that parents are caring and responsible, aware of the impact that their kids are having on others, and will try to minimise negative impacts where possible.
2. When the impact is positive (as it so often will be) I hope that the parents will stick around with the kids thereby sharing the light and joy with those around them.
3. I have absolutely no problems with Convention Committees spending my
membership money to help support parents in dealing with the negatives. In fact I almost expect it, given how many of my friends have kids that I want to catch up with at any given SwanCon.
4. Equally I have no problems with Convention Committees setting reasonable limits/guidelines on the behaviour of kids and the expected responsibilities of parents.
Obviously qualifiers like "assume", "almost", and "reasonable" leave a lot of wiggle room and flexibility in there. Tough. One size rarely fits all in this world and what works for one convention may not work for the next...and vice versa.