From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Self-control and anger management matter -- especially now
This holiday season, we have been forced to question some of the basic
assumptions of our lives. Ironically, during this usually festive time, we are
faced with considering the question of good and evil. Most of us identify
ourselves as good since lately we have focused on the evil which threatens us
from outside the United States. But let us not ignore the evil which has been
growing within our borders and ourselves.
- The Problem of Road Rage. The occurrence of road rage has become
all too common in recent years. Drivers everywhere have decided that they
are entitled to threaten and punish other drivers. This phenomenon is
rationalized by those who believe they have the right to take the law into
their own hands. The truth is that all of us have made careless driving
errors at one time or another. Our goal should be to drive carefully,
defensively and be tolerant of our fellow drivers. Having a driver’s
license does not license us to use our cars as weapons.
- The Problem of Divorce. Early research, a few decades ago,
suggested that children were better off living in single parent families
than in families filled with conflict. Unfortunately, this research was
wrong, but highly publicized. Worse yet, this research was based on only a
handful of children, the results were not valid, and since then, couples
everywhere have justified divorce as a means of conflict resolution. But the
truth is that divorce is not healthy for children, divorce does not resolve
the conflicts between parents, and don’t kid yourself, children are
irrevocably damaged when their families fall apart.
- Domestic Violence is not okay. Another way to permanently scar
children is through emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Children who are
hit, learn to hit. Children who are emotionally abused develop poor
self-concepts and find it difficult, if not impossible, to develop
self-esteem. Further, when children are sexually abused, they learn about
sex far too early in life, become distrustful of others, and have difficulty
with intimacy when they grow up. Anyone who takes advantage of the loving
nature of children does permanent damage to another human being. There is no
excuse for this type of misbehavior.
- What goes around comes around. In my work, I am often faced with
the task of helping clients control their anger. Some are self-righteous
rage-aholics whose families will no longer tolerate their misbehavior.
Others suffer the rage of having been victimized, suffer from survivor guilt
from having witnessed violence, or blame themselves for not preventing
violence that occurred around them. In the effort to relieve this pain, the
impulse to "get even" is great. However, the truth is that
violence only perpetuates violence... like passing the "hot
My suggestion is for each of us to develop a way to manage our own anger. At
this time when Americans are indignant at those who have attacked us, we must
also be willing to examine our own behavior. It is always easier to recognize
misbehavior in others. It is far more difficult to exercise self-control. As
adults, we need to remember that through our behavior, we serve as role models
for every child in our society. No doubt, this holiday season is an important
time for personal reflection on how to make the world (and our own families) a
better place to live.
©Copyright, 2001, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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