As a new semester of school approaches I have begun updating my syllabi for the classes I teach. I have lately used a clause in the syllabus about no children in the classroom as I feel it is a distraction to both me and the other students. Having been in classes both as a student and as an instructor where children are present, I find it necessary now to have such a written statement.
However, there are a few mad parents who dislike such a clause. Some of these young parents feel that they should be able to bring their kids to class, as they otherwise would need to drop out of school because they do not have enough money to hire a sitter. I feel that this is just "how it is," and is part of being a responsible adult.
Do other universities have policies about children in the classroom? How can I reach a happy medium of not coming across as a complete jerk, but still maintain a level of education in my classroom?
Added: I am of the feeling that we many times need to make a rule because of that "one guy/girl" who ruins it for everyone. My stand as it is right now is that we need to come down firmly in writing, then adjust with leniency as people show they can handle having their kid in class. I am not ridiculous about my classroom rules, but I prefer to give it straight, then relax the standard if needed.
Also, as a matter of scope, I teach at a conservative Christian university. Many of the students married young and have a kid or two.