FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Rocketship Park

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 23•13

There are teachable moments in every father-son relationship that occur at random moments. I had one the other day with D as we talked with a girl at a park and looked down a steep hill.

The park has a series of three or four trails winding 100 yards down to the bottom of the hill. “Don’t go running down the trail,” I said to D, testing him to see if he would obey me.

D and I have run down the trails, and they’re safe except for one with a pipe crossing it, and the occasional broken beer bottle glass from the weekend drinking sprees of local teenagers.

“What’s at the bottom of the hill?” the girl asked me.

“Nothing really,” I said.

The girl was telling us it was kitten season when D took off running down the hill. Halfway down, he came to a stop right in front of a white irrigation pipe crossing the trail.

trail 2

I ran down after him. He was giddy from being out of breathe. Not the best condition for a teachable moment. So I let him catch his breath and thought about what I wanted to say.

I kneeled down at his eye level and put one hand on his shoulder. He knew he was testing me, and I knew he was testing me, so I had no choice but to make this a teachable moment.

“Did I tell you not to go running down the hill?”


“What did God tell Adam and Eve?”

“Not to eat the fruit from the tree.”

“Did they obey?”


“What did the sign say in the Pokey Little Puppy story?”

“Don’t EVER dig holes under the fence”

“Did the puppies obey the sign?”


“What did the sign say in Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls?”

“No swimming.”

“Did Adam Raccoon obey the sign?”


Erick's Rocket-5

True, most parents would not use literary allusions to teach obedience. But I wanted D to see the relationship between the characters he loves in his favorite stories and his own actions.

As a parent for five years, it had only recently dawned on me how D’s obedience to me relates to his willingness to obey his current and future teachers, so I must hold him accountable for his behavior.

Sometimes, I believe his disobedience stems from a processing problem. However, it often seems he disobeys me just to see how committed I am going to be to this whole obedience thing.

He knows the line I draw for inappropriate behavior is far different than his mom’s and, ultimately, I think he wants to know if I will hold him responsible for his wrong behavior.

“You don’t know how to say ‘no’ to our son,” L likes to tell me. And though I don’t like to admit it, her criticisms of my parenting have contributed to my new perspective on obedience.

I want D to know that obedience is important to me. I know I have to stay on him to obey me when he doesn’t comply right away and to pick my moments when to draw a hard line.

I know it may take time for him to realize I am serious about obedience. And I must be consistent in holding him accountable for behavior in order for him to learn to value obedience.

He put my new commitment to obedience to the test after our talk. There were shards of broken beer bottles at the bottom of the hills.

“Don’t touch any of the glass,” I told him. “Glass can cut your hand.”

He ignored my command and threw several pieces of glass–okay, seven to eight–so it is safe to say it is going to take time for him to learn obedience.

And for me to stay consistent in holding him accountable.


  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.