I am genuinely curious about how Quakers understand anger given their testimony on peace.
Submitted by: Susan
I don’t know of a Quaker position on anger. There certainly has been a history in some Quaker families that one should not be angry. Parents in my discussion sessions who were raised in Quaker homes have told of their confusion as children when parents seemed to their children to be very angry but would not admit to it.
In discussion groups we encourage each parent to explore how s/he wants to deal with feelings in general in their families. We expand the topic by talking about how they want their children to deal with feelings.
Parents tend to draw three conclusions regarding feelings:
1. Feelings are a part of life. Some add that feelings give zip and interest to life and that can also be warnings something is not right.
2. People should be aware of how they are feeling. That means with young children they should be encouraged to recognize how they are feeling and given the language to express what they are feeling.
3. Lastly, the parents overwhelmingly conclude that the crucial issue is how those feelings are expressed or dealt with. People have to learn how to express their feelings appropriately. Here the first value they usually mention is that no one is hurt nor property is damaged. In discussion groups we talk about ways of dealing with anger ranging from learning to take a deep breath before acting to problem solving and using conflict resolution skills.
This position is one that most mental health people would support.
Relating the above to anger, we could conclude that feeling angry is natural. Anger can be a warning that some situation is not right. It can give people energy to try and right a wrong. People should be aware when they are feeling angry. People should also have appropriate ways of dealing with their anger. Appropriate ways would certainly include ones that do not hurt others. Ways of dealing with anger can vary from taking a deep breath before responding to using problem solving and nonviolent resolution skills.
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