Re: Anger and Arguments
From: administration (
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 00:39:47 -0600 (MDT)
>> It is possible to express  anger effectively (for the angry person
>> and the person at whom they are angry) by tensing the jaw and saying >>
in a VERY low voice, "I'm really, really angry (or mad or furious) at you
>> for
>>The low, intense voice is often even more effective than yelling in my >>

>I'm sure this directed tension is as, or even more, "effective". But would
>everyone prefer it? To me this kind of reaction is frightening.

I agree with Sharon, it could very frightening indeed, especially to a
sensitive child. I am surprised that during this exceptionally fertile
debate no one actually talked about the impact of anger as a feeling rather
than an *expression* of that feeling. Children -- as well as some adults --
are quite capable of directly perceiving their parents' emotions. Yelling or
whispering in a voice full of hatred is not as important as what the
intended message and its *effect* are. Anger is a violent emotion and it is
the implied violence that is frightening, as well as the underlying message
that you have done something so terribly wrong that mommy is now all
contorted with rage.

Most of the time we get angry because we feel out of control. Which means
that *feeling* angry can be seen as an inability to effectively deal with
the world. We all manipulate our kids into obedience using different methods
that our own culture makes available to us. It is an everyday task of
drop-by-drop ego destruction, so that by the time they are ready to face the
world they are all obedient little solders / consumers / or whatever! And,
to be honest, some of us, some of the time use our kids? pure feelings
toward us to satisfy our own need for love. The power to scare someone into
behaving your way, the expression of worry, terror, and love in your child?s
eyes when you "clench" that jaw ? admit it, it feels good.

I can?t see how being exposed people?s anger (expressed or otherwise) can be
healthy for children. Especially, if they observe others to get frightened.
If a child does something we don?t want him/her to do, why not just tell
them it?s wrong to do it WITHOUT any anger, ie. without giving them a
message that they are not loved or there is something wrong with them. Just
say, please, don?t make that mess or you?ll have to clean it up. Period. But
I still love you and the world is not going to explode if you do make a
mess. You can say it, or you can even yell it but *without* anger, without
getting them scared.

As far as the community is concerned, if someone is displaying their
culturally specific methods of emotional violence in front of my kids (or my
neighbour?s kids)? I?ll just tell them this guy is an asshole but they are

The healthiest way to deal with any violence is to walk away. Not because we
don't care, but because no one deserves to be hurt. If a grown person is so
upset that they cannot express themselves without unleashing their rage on
others -- a cold shower might help. Then come back and say what troubles
you -- we are here to listen, maybe even give a hug.


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