It can be difficult to explain pain, suffering and evil deeds to children, says Rabbi Shmuley. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were an example of a tragedy that many parents had a though time talking about with their children. While many chose to guard their children from the disturbing images from September 11, Rabbi Shmuley says parents do need to talk about the attacks as well as how there is more good in the world than evil. "Children need to know, at an early age, that although there is suffering and death in the world, there is a lot more joy and health; that for every one evil person, there are a thousand very loving people," he says
Rabbi Shmuley shares advice for helping your children deal with tragedy:
- Tell them that most people are good and kindhearted. "For the most part, [people] want to do the right thing," he says. "There are exceptions; there are cruel people. But they prove the exception to the rule."
- Make sure they know that there is a God who loves humanity. "Sometimes we are confused as to why he is silent in the face of so many suffering," Rabbi Shmuley says. "And even so, most of the time, he is present and things work."
- Point out the angels among us. Rabbi Shmuley says it is important to acknowledge doctors and nurses who rush to heal us and friends who rush to comfort us.
- Help them see that tragedy is also an opportunity to help others. When a family from his children's school was killed in a fire, Rabbi Shmuley encouraged his children to participate in a charity drive for a memorial fund set up in the children's names. "Because our children could do something in response to the tragedy, they didn't feel helpless and they had hope," he says.
"We can't always shelter our children from the tragedies and evil in this world, but we can teach them that they can always light a candle against the darkness. One good deed performed in the wake of a terrible occurrence is already one giant step toward filling the world with light and making things brighter. "