While this has been a question that has been discussed for many years and with differing results, social norms or the expectations of society have tainted our views and actions. One of the issues that comes up is the acceptance of the emotion of anger in men. It is accepted and even seen as a good thing for men to express their anger. It is seen by many as showing their strength. In fact it is encouraged beginning with the games boys are encouraged to play, and venting of their anger is taken out with the way business is conducted, hunting, play or real fighting, and other aggressive acts. All of this grows into a feeling that anger and aggression is normal for men and this norm is reinforced by the media.
On the other hand women have for many years been told it is important for them to be nice, and good girls, don’t rock the boat. They have been the peacemakers and not allowed to express their anger as openly as men, as this would not be lady-like. Though repressed in so many ways, in the last 150 years though, the more open assertion for equality and voicing their opinions, may make some in society feel that women are more angry.
When looked at in totality every human needs education about anger and in particular their own anger and triggers of that emotion. Anger is normal – it is the way it is expressed that creates the problems for us in our relationships. Which brings us to our children. Are they more angry today then they were in the past?
I personally believe that children are more angry today than ever before. They learn so much from the examples of the adults around them; parents, teachers, coaches, drivers on the road, media, games they are playing. They see so many bad examples and then are told to “be good”, not to be aggressive, stop yelling, etc… and they are confused. Out of the confusion of what is right or wrong comes hurt, fear, pain and anger. Our whole society is more angry than ever before and each generation seems to be having more difficulty with this emotion.
The solution seems to need to begin with anger management education for parents and children. Education for teachers and students, coaches and players. Each one of us can take the steps to understand our own anger and get educated in helping ourselves and our children.