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 while looking down a steep hill.

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

We have run down the trails before, and they’re safe except for one with a white plastic pipe crossing it, and broken beer bottle glass from the 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 D and I it was kitten season when I looked over at D, and he was barreling down the hill, coming to a stop in front of a plastic irrigation pipe crossing the trail.

trail 2

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

I kneeled down to his eye level and placed my 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 connection  between the characters he loves in his favorite stories and his own actions.

As a parent for five years, it has 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 is due to a verbal processing problem. However, it often seems he disobeys me just to see how committed I am going to be to this obedience thing.

He knows the line I draw for inappropriate 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.

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

I know it will take time for him to realize I am serious about obedience. And I must be consistent in holding him accountable for his behavior in order for him respect my authority.

He tested my new attitude on obedience right after our talk. He picked up a shard of a broken beer bottle at the bottom of the hill and threw it down on the asphalt slab.

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

He picked up and proceeded to throw several more pieces of glass–seven to ten—before he finally stopped, so I know it will take him time to learn to take my commands more serious.

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