Given the potential for battle and ultimate demise, I find it highly strange that there would be children on a starship, especially given the oft sensitive nature of their mission. I know conceptually there may have been reasons for it, to me it just seemed silly.
As for the ships counselor on the bridge, situated beside the Captain, it has always seemed to me to be ridiculous and contrived. But then again it was made in the 80's, and they did allow a kid at the wheel when in reality he should have been nowhere near the bridge, no matter how good we ultimately may have felt about him.
Having pressed those views, I liked TNG for the most part. When they were "on", they were really on.