?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Kids @ Cons - Danny Danger Oz — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Kids @ Cons [Jan. 27th, 2010|04:29 pm]
dalekboy
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[mood |quixoticquixotic]

Way back in '91, (or was it '92?) I ran a convention and very deliberately insisted on a panel about being a parent and staying active in fandom. It had two two fan mums on it. Back at that point, I think I knew three people with kids that were still active fans.

There were quite a few more who had basically dropped out for various reasons - time/money constraints, had moved on to other interests, lost interest in fandom in the face of the new little person who needed them, just felt they couldn't do both, etc.

That was why I wanted this panel, because there were people dropping out simply because they didn't think they could do both, be a parent and an active fan. I wanted people to be able to hear from some parents who were still going to cons and clubs, and to be able to pick up some tips, so they could do the same if they wanted to.

What amazed me was the sheer lack of attendance. Especially by women who were talking about having children themselves. Because, to me, it wasn't a subject that was just about keeping yourself in fandom, it was about how to maintain the aspects of your life that you wanted to hang on to in the face of the world altering addition of another person in your life.

I thought this way a decade and a half before I even had kids, because I knew that many people will end up looking after a child at some point. And it'd be a shame to lose them simply because they didn't think they could do the stuff that they enjoyed, and still care for their kid. No-one wins in that scenario.

There are people who say that kids shouldn't be allowed at cons, and I can honestly see their point. Kids can be disruptive, excitable, loud, and annoying. They can run around, bump into people, and wave things about with no regard for the people nearby who might be hit. They can be a huge imposition to those around them who genuinely shouldn't have to put up with it. People have paid to enjoy the convention, they shouldn't have that enjoyment lessened by some out of control child.

Of course there are more than a few adult fans the above paragraph applies to as well. I can think of instances where I have seen supposedly mature adults doing all these things. In some cases at con after con after con.

Shall we stop them coming to cons too? 'Cause I'm sure I can easily list a few names that I'd rather not attend cons any more. People who always fucking yell stuff out from the audience whether it's warranted or not, especially the ones who think they're funny. Who drink too much and then proceed to be completely obnoxious fucking tools for the rest of the night. Panelists that never seem to prepare, or who always seem to talk over the top of their fellow panelists. Con-runners that never try to do a good job, but always aim for average, and con-runners that will step on whomever they please because running cons is not about community but power.

These people seriously lessen my con experience. They lessen it substantially more than any child ever has. (Except perhaps my own, but he basically kept us trapped in our room most of the time, and was pretty delightful to everyone else, so I'm prepared to put up with him - for now!)

But, you know, at the end of the day, if a child is acting up in any way, the first person who is aware of it is usually the parent. In fact, they will often be cringing. They will usually try to sort the situation out in fairly short order, and if they can't, they will take the child and leave. And as annoyed as you may be by the two minutes of a kid annoying you, how about a bit of thought for the poor parent who has to leave the item they wanted to see and continue dealing with the unruly child.

Oh there are some selfish parents. People who will just let their kid do what it wants, won't keep an eye on it, or worse, will expect other people to do so without being asked. But you know, it's not hard to go up to them and ask them to do something about their disruptive child. And if you don't want to be the bad guy, it's usually not hard to find a committee member who can do it for you.

I have Chaired four conventions and been on several committees, but I've never had a situation where I had to ask a parent to take their child and leave. I have, however, had occasion to chastise and threaten with expulsion a couple of adults, and I've had to ask one professional author to leave a con for breaking convention rules that he was well aware of beforehand.

Maybe kids don't belong at cons, but I prefer their behaviour to some of the adults who attend, because at least the children have a legitimate excuse to behave immaturely.
linkReply

Comments:
From: leecetheartist
2010-01-27 11:30 am (UTC)
I'm all for kids at conventions.

I think there should be areas for them to enjoy themselves, and programming for them and creches.

But I'm not altogether sold on this I've seen adults behaving badly so it's okay to have kids anywhere there too reasoning.
An adult can be held responsible for themselves in most cases. If they're acting obnoxiously they can be cautioned by peers or committee.

Most people would feel uncomfortable cautioning a child out of the blue, it's perceived as being the parents' job.

A committee member can't really say to a child that they must leave.

Great discussion Danny, I'd say the time was very ripe to have a "surviving Swancon with kids panel" both for parents and other participants.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-01-27 09:57 pm (UTC)
My point isn't that kids can be anywhere because there have been ratty adults. Ew! :)

The folks who say that children don't belong at cons, always back it up by saying that they ruin it for other people, are disruptive, etc.

What I'm saying is, if the argument is that children shouldn't be allowed at a con because they spoil it for other people, well there are adults that regularly ruin other people's times at cons as well, so it's only fair that we should also be looking at banning those disruptive adults.

The 'annoying beings shouldn't be allowed at cons' idea shouldn't have an age limit that means adults are exempt.

Thanks matey :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cassiphone
2010-01-27 10:17 pm (UTC)
There's also a big difference between saying that parents whose children consistently disrupt conventions should be asked not to bring said children into panels, and banning all parents/carers from bringing children to a convention full stop.

If the etiquette for children at conventions is made clear (as is the etiquette for socially acceptable behaviour), then only people who consistently ignore such things will cause problems - and those people should be managed accordingly.

I'm sure there have been incidents when the presence of children has caused problems, but that is down to the actions of individuals. I'm sure that if, for example, there was an incident of a 50 year old man harassing someone or being violent towards them, there wouldn't suddenly be a call for every man over 45 to be banned from the event.

Personally I don't require that a con makes any special arrangements for me and my children (cool if they do, of course), I just want to be able to make my own decisions as to how I will handle the juggling act that comes with doing anything when you are a parent of children under six, without anyone else presuming to make those decisions for me.

I find it very hard to believe that anyone could have their con so completely spoiled by the presence of a child or children that they can justify making it near-impossible for some parents to attend the event at all.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-01-27 11:45 pm (UTC)
Yes to all of this.

And I've certainly seen people whose behaviour warranted at least a serious word, if not expulsion. As Sharon put it, we've been a a few cons where women felt it was necessary to actively hide from an individual who was overly lecherous and creepy, and wouldn't take no for an answer, while we've yet to hear about anyone having to hide themselves from a child.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cassiphone
2010-01-28 12:20 am (UTC)
Ha, yes. Sad but true.

What a large part of the current Swancon discussion comes down to, sadly, is that there are some people for whom community means "anyone who is exactly like me and has no needs or interests other than mine."

My definition is a lot broader than that!

I don't expect other people to babysit for me or mind my children, and it regularly shocks me how many people are so anti-children that their mere presence seems to throw them into a tizzy. The least I expect from a convention is that its participants not make me feel like shit for including my whole family.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-01-28 02:01 am (UTC)
I don't think I've ever gamed at a con. I've been into the gaming room to find friends or chat to someone, but that's it. But I would never suggest that people not game at cons just because it's not my bag.

I like hard SF, but do I want a major convention where that's all we talk about for 5 days? No. And I suspect I'm in the majority with that.

Swancon is a family event. It's had 30 plus years to say 'sorry, we don't want children here.' If these people are so very serious, and are so sure that people don't want children at 'their' convention, then why don't they just get organised, get elected to WASSF and start making changes? Don't expect everyone else to do the hard work for you, just because you complain about it, get off your arse and do something.

Given that Perth has successfully run smaller cons in the later half of the year, I see no reason why these folks that want child-free conventions can't just run their own. I would fully 100% support their right to set up a convention and say 'no-one under X age admitted.' Hell, if it was a good enough con, I'd even come to it if I were able.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cassiphone
2010-01-28 05:55 am (UTC)
Very sensible suggestions! (would that make Swancon Doctor Who and NewAdultsOnlyCon Torchwood, then?)

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mireille21
2010-01-28 04:24 am (UTC)
Agreed wholeheartedly.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)