As a parent who also happens to be a UFO researcher/experiencer I am often asked the questions, "how do my own children feel about this topic and in what manner do I discuss it with them?" I will endeavour to provide an answer to these questions in the hopes that it may aid other parents who's children are interested in ufos and aliens.
My own children have been raised to be open minded and not discount information, new ideas, or opinions simply because it may not fit the accepted norm or maintain the status quo. However, they have also been taught to utilize their own common sense, and apply critical thinking, especially when dealing with that which is yet unproven. This includes many of the theories that revolve around the topic of ufos. It is also a good rule of thumb when looking into all the various "paranormal" personal accounts, legends, and myths.
Children in general tend to gravitate towards paranormal subjects, particularly "extraterrestrials" and their "spaceships." For that matter so do many adults. The evidence of this is abundant within pop culture that is fuelled by consumer interest. Unfortunately what the majority are exposed to as entertainment does not reflect the reality of the ufo experience, history nor subsequent investigation by those whom take this topic seriously.
Therefore it is important to explain to children with an avid interest that yes, U.F.O.s (by definition - unidentified flying object) exist, however the percentage of cases where the ufo turns out to have a natural/explainable cause tends to outweigh those that do not.
While not every report does provide a genuine mystery, there are those that do defy easy explanations. Young people should be taught that there are highly credible witnesses who have reported seeing ufos such as policemen, firemen, astronauts, pilots, etc. These people have no reason to lie about their experiences and in fact coming forward with these could potentially cause them more harm than good. This holds true for most people who face ridicule as a result of society's prevailing attitude towards the subject.
Occasionally these people are further insulted by those who would give them mundane explanations for what they've witnessed such as planets or weather balloons even when these easy explanations do not fit the facts of what they have experienced first hand. It can also be pointed out that UFOlogy as a new science, must prove itself and that traditionally all new sciences and discoveries were met with scepticism, denial or outright scorn before becoming accepted en masse. The more that we openly talk about the subject of ufos and educate ourselves in regards to it, the more likely that those who do come forward will not have to face ridicule. This is something that no one should have to endure despite how strange their encounter may seem.
When asked about "aliens" the high probability of extraterrestrial life should be mentioned. This does not mean that we have absolute proof by scientific standards - just that it makes sense to most according to various polls. Is this life intelligent? Have they mastered space travel? Do they visit? Are they responsible for genuine U.F.O. sightings? Again we, have no absolute proof. However, there is enough empirical evidence collected that suggests this as a possibility and there are many credible researchers who do believe this theory to be the case.
These are merely suggestions and of course can be tailored to fit in with your own personal belief system. I am a firm believer in ensuring that when any topic such as this is studied that all theories are looked upon and all facts considered.
Knowledge is power and by exposing our children to the realities of the study of U.F.O.s and encouraging them to read about it; we may also spark interest in other sciences such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, etc. All very positive and worthwhile pursuits!
The Mystery Of UFOs
by Judith Herbst, & Greg Clarke (Illustrator)
Atheneum; ISBN: 0689316526
Available at Amazon.Com
"Judith Herbst's eclectic collection of anecdotes and well-researched facts paints a fascinating history of UFO sightings in the United States. The stories, which include a Yakima Indian folktale, a detailed description of the Roswell incident, and a lesson in Jungian psychology, are guaranteed to spark the interest of even the world's greatest skeptics. What were people really seeing when they looked up into the sky? Greg Clark's hilarious ink and watercolor illustrations provide young readers with a host of silly possibilities: weather balloons, flying pancakes, and lenticular clouds, to name just a few. This engaging, light-hearted treatment of a historically controversial topic is great fun to read and even more fun to talk about afterwards."
Almanac of Alien Encounters
by Eric Elfman, & Jeff Westover (Illustrator)
Paperback - 168 pages (June 26, 2001)
Random House Childrens Pub; ISBN: 0679872884
Available at Amazon.com
From School Library Journal
"Gr 6-10-A wealth of UFO sighting reports from ancient Egypt to China in 2001 gives this work an uncommon breadth and depth of coverage. As is typical, the bulk of the reported alien encounters comes from the United States, but a generous sampling comes from many different countries, including Israel,Switzerland, New Guinea, France, and Cuba. Chapters are arranged in a rough chronological order. Many charts, sidebars, pencil sketches, and a few photographs add visual interest and supplemental information in the narrative: comparisons between typical alien encounters and folklore, brief descriptions of additional sightings, background information on assorted "alien experts," and definitions of terms used in ufology, etc. A "man in black" icon in the margin indicates especially significant or well-documented incidents. Contact information for several UFO organizations and descriptions of their areas of activity are provided after a section on how to observe and record a UFO encounter. The reading list, divided by general subject area, is small but highly selective and well annotated. The tone of this book is more neutral than Alan Baker's The Encyclopedia of Alien Encounters (Facts On File, 2000). Skeptics' ideas and UFO believers' opinions are given fair and balanced consideration. On the whole, this is a fine, up-to-date summary of the many aspects of a compelling subject."