This disturbs me as a parent. How am I to model the best behavior to my children if I do not have the will power to do it myself?
I was thinking about the phrase “will power” the other day. Everyone, even babies, have will forces. We will ourselves to move, to do things, even to get out of bed in the morning (although this last often takes me a while).
But “will power” implies something else: the power to channel and use our will forces in a conscious way. We say we have no will power when we know we would be better off not eating that piece of cake but eat it anyway, because we allowed a craving to override our “higher” intentions.
I see my children struggling with this, as all children do. They would eat chocolate all day long if I let them (I admit, I have done some poor modeling in this particular area) because the health effects, of which they have some idea, do not matter as much as the overwhelmingly good feelings that food gives them.
They also cannot control their physical actions quite often. I have observed them hearing us say, “Don’t do X again please,” and still doing X in that next moment because they were already in the process of doing it. They can’t stop themselves.
Most of all, recently, I have noticed that they are struggling with the same things I struggle with. Their playroom is a complete disaster most of the time. What we as parents need to do is create a daily habit of tidying with them. But tidying is not my strong point. I do it in bursts instead of consistently. I was in the middle of admonishing my son to put his books away instead of leaving them strewn about the living room, when I looked around and noticed how many piles of MY books there were.
This is not to say I don’t like a clean and tidy home. I do. I am just still in the process of getting myself to form the habit of cleaning and tidying. Making something a habit helps us harness our will forces when we cannot call up the will power from the start.