I agree with the last post and would like to reiterate the last post's point that family can be a distraction for the staff. If they are present, a support person designated just for that should be there with them to quietly explain what is going on. I was involved in a code situation in the ED not long ago in which I was recording the code and the patient's husband was allowed in. Fine, if you have someone there for HIM, but in this case he just wanted to talk about her, about her life, about her children, etc etc etc to me while I am trying to record this code, he moved up into the area in which the code team was working and got in the way. NOT an ideal situation. There should be a chaplain for that if it is to be allowed. I do think it is a positive thing for the families to witness the codes so that they can see what it is we are doing, the fact that we really are doing everything we can, and sometimes the families will ask that the code be called ( a really positive thing when the patient is 150 years old and terminal and really should have been allowed to die peacefully in the first place).
As far as simple procedures such as IVs, blood draws, and Foleys, it depends on the individual situation. I do NOT believe a parent should be involved in restraining a child for these procedures because I believe it erodes the trust the child has in the parent to be the child's protector. But since this is for a critical care course, I doubt these are the types of invasive procedures you had in mind.
Generally, for the more critical procedures, my answer to that would have to be a firm "NO". Why? Back to the fact that the team needs to be able to work without distraction, without worrying about an uninvolved person in the background (by this I mean not professionally involved, I don't mean personally) who may actually get in the way and take up space in an already cramped room. Then there's the matter of blood and body fluids flying and spattering about, sharps here there and everywhere, the possibility of a family member being injured and (No! this would NEVER happen!) filing a lawsuit for damages. Do we go into our burning buildings so we can see what the firemen are doing as they try to save our houses? C'mon! It's not about "preserving the mystique" of the "medical professional" - it's about common sense. Things DO go wrong. Let's not have the family there, not fully understanding everything, jumping to their own conclusions about what's going on. As they say, a LITTLE knowledge is a dangerous thing.
I've been in just about every field of nursing (except OR and OB - wouldn't touch those with a 10 foot pole) in my 12+ years of experience, so these observations are based on at least a little bit of experience. Good luck with your course of study and, may I say, more power to you. I hope you find the nursing field to be a friendlier place in the future than it is now. I am leaving it, and so I feel I must pass the torch, so to speak.