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. I had one with D the other day at a park while we were talking to a girl and looking down the side of a steep hill.

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

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

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

“Nothing really,” I said.

The girl was in the middle of 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 the white pipe crossing the trail.

trail 2

He was giddy and breathing fast when I reached him. Not exactly the best mental condition for a teachable moment. So I waited for him to 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 have gone with a simple reprimand. Maybe a scolding or consequences rather than making literary allusions to their child’s favorite books to make a point.

But I wanted D to see the connection between the characters in his favorite books and his actions because I know he senses these stories relate to the choices he makes in his life.

As a parent now for five years, it has slowly dawned on me how obedience to his parents relates to his obeying other authority figures, and I must hold him accountable for his behavior.

Sometimes, I think his disobedience relates to his difficulty regulating his body. However, it often seems he disobeys me to see how committed I am to this whole obedience thing.

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

The Wife says I don’t know how to say “no” to our son, and even though I don’t like to admit it, her criticisms of my parenting skills have probably contributed to my new understanding on the importance of obedience.

I want D to know that obedience is important to me. I know I have to stay on him to obey when he doesn’t comply right away and 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 forbehavior in order for him to value obedience.

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