We know repetition aids learning, but how do we do it well without provoking our children to wrath or driving ourselves crazy? Today AMBrewster opens God’s Word to find the answer Christian parents need to be Christ-honoring, Repetitive Parents.
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“What did I tell you?”
“Stop it. I said, ‘Stop it.’”
“Why are you doing that again? Didn’t I just say to get off the couch?”
“Didn’t we tell you you’d have to resign from the soccer team if your grades didn’t improve?”
“You did what? Why are we having this conversation again?”
“I already explained that.”
Does any of that sound familiar?
I’d have to say that one of the most taxing things about being a parent is the constant repetition. If variety is the spice of life, then some would argue that repetition is the unseasoned oatmeal of life.
But we have to do it.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if we’re not being Repetitive Parents, we’re not fulfilling God’s will fo your parenting, and if we don’t appreciate the repetitive nature of parenting, we don’t truly understand its value.
So let’s talk about the value of repetition.
We should all now by now that repetition aids learning. We know we have to do it, but how do we do it well without provoking our children to wrath or driving ourselves crazy?
So, we’re going to discuss the one grand and glorious reason that God has called us to be Repetitive Parents.
Then we’ll discuss eight biblical realities about which our children must be constantly reminded.
Then we’ll talk about how to handle the really annoying repetitions in parenting.
Here we go.
1. Why does God want us to be Repetitive Parents?
Let’s consider John 16:4 for our answer. In this passage Jesus is preparing His disciples for the fact that He soon will be going away to the Father, and He says, “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.”
Here it is: We remind our children so they’ll be ready.
Few people learn anything perfectly the first time. And those people with photographic memories may be able to perfectly remember words and music and images, but God calls us to far more than merely remembering facts. It’s how we use those facts that is the real meat of our parenting.
We repeat to help our children learn so that when they need it, they’ll be ready.
So, 2. What types of things should be repeating in our parenting? Here’s a list of 8 things God wants us to constantly repeat:
1. Remind Your Children of All of God’s Truth — I don’t want to take any time with this because it’s a massive discussion, and because we already dealt with it in grand detail in episode 29, “Christian Parenting 101.” But I will say that this truth comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-25.
As long as your children don’t know and obey God, they must be driven back to beauty and awesomeness. Like we observed in our discussion about pets, we must first have the right view of God before we can ever hope to put anything in the right place.
How well do you know the whole counsel of God? Are you ready ready in season and out of season to give an answer for the hope that is in you? How often do you tie the issues of life back to the Scriptures?
And what’s the most important of biblical Truths?
2. Remind Your Children of the Gospel — I Corinthians 15:1 says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand.” This Truth is repeated all over Scripture.
If your children have not submitted to the Gospel, you must continue to be Evangelist Parents.
But even if your children are born again, the Gospel is not a past-tense message. The Gospel is necessary to our entire lives. What we embraced when we started following Christ is the only thing that will sustain us as we continue to follow Christ.
Please note that in our verse, Paul is reminding people of the Gospel who already stand in the Gospel.
How well do you know it? How often do you remind your children of the Gospel?
There’s also another super important biblical Truth we frequently neglect to repeat to our children.
3. Remind Your Children of Biblical Prophecy — Jude 1:17 tells us, “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 3:1-2 says, “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”
I debated about including this one; did it really need to be its own point? But the remainder of the passages (which we don’t really have time to discuss right now) explain why this concept is so important.
Let me sum it up. Our kids need to know what the Bible says so that they can be assured of its truthfulness. They need to see how time and again what God prophesied came true. They need to be assured that the promises that are not yet present will in fact come to be.
The world will use these “unfulfilled” predictions and promises to attack the Bible, but our children need to know the nature of God and His track record in order to have a confident expectation in Him.
I imagine this is not something that regularly comes up in your home. Imagine a home where the children were regularly reminded of the fulfilled and as-of-yet unfulfilled promises of God.
4. Remind Your Children of God’s Gifts — II Timothy 1:6 tells us, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
I’ve been working on a series for later this season all about helping your children know what God’s will is for their lives.
This point is a big part of that.
Are you reminding your children to use their talents and skills and gifts for the Lord? This means that we will have to help them to remember to use for God the ones they like to use for themselves.
But we’ll also have to remind them to use the ones they don’t like using. Your children will need reminders to use gifts like service and mercy and teaching.
One of the most important gifts of the Spirit is the grace and strength necessary to live like Christ. Therefore . . .
5. Remind Your Children of Good Character — II Peter 1:12 reads, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.”
I love II Peter 1. Perhaps one day I’ll work through that passage in an episode for TLP. But let’s at least look at the character traits about which Peter is talking. In verses 5-7 Peter says, “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.’
As you know, we could do a series on each of those words alone. In fact, we did a whole month long study on biblical family love. If you haven’t heard those yet, or you haven’t taken your family through the shorter Four Family Loves Study, then you really need to do so.
Each of those concepts is jam-packed with super-relevant, absolutely vital truth for us and our families.
And — according to Peter — they are so important that he intends to always remind them of those qualities.
Do you regularly remind your children of these character traits? Do they know what they are and how they’re to be lived out as they follow Christ?
When it comes to good character, you can’t neglect this next point.
6. Remind Your Children to Obey — Titus 3:1 says, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”
This is pretty huge. In our “Teaching Your Children to Obey” series in episodes 138-142, we stepped through the biblical definition of obedience and equipped you to teach it to your children.
Of course, like many of these episodes, you could simply have your children listen to it with you and use it as a springboard for family discussion.
Either way, your kids need to know what Christ-honoring obedience is, and they need to be constantly reminded to do it.
This type of Repetitive Parenting is likely a staple in your house. If so, keep it up. But there are some important considerations with which we need to grapple to make sure that remind our children about obedience in the right and most beneficial way.
And we’ll talk about them after we look at the last two points.
7. Remind Your Children of Consequences — Jude 1:5, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
In episode 123 we discussed Parenting like the Holy Spirit. Three of the Spirit’s works in this world is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement, and the Lord expects us to participate in that ministry.
As we’ve already seen, we need to remind our children of what is sin and righteousness, but we must also talk often of consequences.
Jesus discusses Hell far more often than He does Heaven. Consequences, both encouraging and corrective are an unbreakable law of nature. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, both in the physical and spiritual realms.
Do you remind your children of consequences before they’ve earned them? I’ve found that premeditated and preemptive parenting goes a lot further than reactionary parenting.
Help your children understand the natural consequences of their life choices, and repeat those truth frequently.
And finally . . .
8. Remind Your Children of Lessons Learned — II Thessalonians 2:4 sounds so much like a mother speaking to her child, “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” And Matthew 16:9 finds Jesus asking His disciples, “Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?”
If we’re being consistent Repetitive Parents, then our children will be constantly reminded of lessons learned. These include lessons learned at church, in family worship, in casual conversation, and in times of discipline.
Okay, so here’s a quick review before we tackle the last issue.
First, we must be Repetitive Parents so that our children will be ready when the temptation come. They’ll be ready when the trial comes. They’ll be ready when the question comes. They’ll be ready when the choice comes.
Second, we looked at eight things that must be a regular part of our Repetitive Parenting.
We need to remind our kids of all of God’s Truth, the Gospel, His prophecy, His gifts, His expectations for character, obedience, consequences, and lessons learned.
If that doesn’t sound like “training up a child in the way he should go” I don’t know why does. You may want to check out episode 94. It’s called “How to Train Your Child to Stay with God,” and it would be an awesome followup to this discussion.
Okay, but what about all the seemingly mindless repetitions?
“Eat your food.”
“That’s not how I taught you to make your bed.”
“Weren’t you supposed to empty the trash?”
“What did I say about hitting your sister?”
And this is an important issue because it reveals the heart of parenting.
The reality of the fact is that all parents repeat themselves. Unless you’re an absentee parent — at which point you likely wouldn’t be listening to this podcast — you repeat yourself all the time.
The real question is on what do you spend your limited time?
We parents have limited time, and yet we find ourselves constantly parroting seemingly pointless repetitions.
Let me use an example from my own family.
For many, many reasons, when at the dinner table, my daughter has to be reminded over and over and over to eat her food.
She gets distracted by pretty much everything. She seems more interested in what the Victory boys are doing and saying than eating her food. So by the time that everyone else is done, she she’s barely started.
For so many years of my life I heard myself echoing the unending refrain of “Eat your food.”
So many times I despaired.
But then one day it dawned on me that I was just as much a part of the problem as she was.
Look at it this way. She’s an immature child who’s easily distracted by the antics of a table full of teenage boys. I’m supposedly the spiritually mature adult put by God into her life to help her mature in to the woman God wants her to be . . . and the best I had to offer her was “Eat your food”?
It’s no wonder we provoke our kids. We’re telling them to do something that seems easy to us, but they have no idea how to accomplish it. It’s like me telling you to fly and every time you fail, all I say is, “I thought I told you to fly.” You fail again and the best I have is, “I’m not going to tell you again. Get up and fly!”
Friends, the eight items I named earlier should be a joy to repeat. If we’re born again believers, how could we not joy in reminding our children of those divine truths? I suggest that if you find yourself pained by the instructions you’re repeating, the real issue may be that you’re repeating all the wrong things.
Do you remember the episode about Revolving Priorities? What about Speed Parenting? I really hope you studied through The Merest Christianity.
All of those studies teach us the exact same things . . . the root of the problem is far more important than the presenting fruits.
I believe we find ourselves annoyed by the repetition of superficial instructions just like our children feel beaten down by the constant drumming of commands without any real instruction. Who wouldn’t get tired of speaking or hearing the words “Eat your food” all the time?
So, what did I do? Well, I took God’s advice and tried my best to dig down to the root of the issue.
Why was my daughter not eating her food? Yes, she was distracted, but why was she distracted?
After much discussion, prayer, Bible-reading, and observation, I helped my daughter understand that God gives us jobs. When we neglect or forget to do those jobs, it’s not because the responsibility is unimportant, unmemorable, or a bad idea, it’s because there’s something else we want to be doing more than we want to obey.
I helped her understand that her biggest issue was not being distracted, it was that God’s will for her life wasn’t important enough for her to remember and execute.
Let me tell you, three things happened next:
You see, by God’s grace, I started actually parenting her. God didn’t call me to endlessly repeat superficial injunctions. He called me to point my daughter to God.
And, you know what? It doesn’t annoy me or bother me or get old to point my daughter back to those Truths.
If all of this sounds wonderful, but you’d like help figuring out why your kids do what they do, I strongly encourage you to listen to The Merest Christianity series starting in episode 95. Why your kids do what they do is what the whole series is about.
Not knowing why our kids are doing what they’re doing is a huge reason we repeat ourselves unnecessarily. It’s so much easier to tell you to fly over and over than it is to figure out why you keep failing.
Then there’s the two-part Speed Parenting episode which starts in 115 and teaches us how to get to the root of the problem even when it seems like there’s no time. And that’s another reason I believe we waste too much time repeating unhelpful information . . . we feel pressured by the moment to say something, and so we default to what makes the most sense: “Eat your food.”
And then there’s the Revolving Priorities in episode 39. That tool helps us revolve away from the less important issues to the deeper, vital problems.
So, in conclusion, we need to embrace the truly glorious responsibility we have to repeatedly remind our children of the goodness of God, His Gospel, and His expectations.
And avoid the superficial, empty repetitions by focusing on the heart of the behavior.
If you know a Christian parent who could benefit from this episode, will you please share it with them?
You can find our episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com where you can also sign up for our free parenting course called “25 Days to Becoming a Premeditated Parent.”
On our next episode we’ll discuss “How God Wants Your Family to Steward the Earth.” This is a super biblical topic about which we cannot afford to be ignorant.
And don’t forget that Truth.Love.Parent. is a listener-support ministry. If the Lord has laid in on your heart to look into how you can support us, I’d encourage you to click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP” link in the description of this episode.
God wants us to be Repetitive Parents, but He wants us to repeat the things that truly matter.
So, I’ll see you next time as we search God’s Word for the things worth repeating.
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