Parenting and Indiana Jones
by James Pence
October 09th, 2014

As the father of a daughter, if I had to compare my role to a famous movie character, I’d choose Indiana Jones. I don’t identify with Indiana because I see myself as an über-masculine, swashbuckling hero of a dad. 

On the contrary, I identify with Indiana Jones on an entirely different level. 

In The Raiders of the Lost Ark, a brief exchange takes place between Indiana and his friend Sallah: 

Indiana Jones: Get back to Cairo, get us some transport to England. Boat, plane, anything. Meet me at Omar’s. Be ready for me. I’m going after that truck. 

Sallah: How? 

Indiana Jones: I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go. 

That’s how I felt in the delivery room when I realized that the son we were expecting turned out to be a daughter. 

Laurel had a sonogram about halfway through the pregnancy and our OB told us that we were going to have another boy. This was back in the early ‘90s, when sonograms were not so clear and interpreting their images required a bit of imagination. However, four years earlier, the doctor was spot-on when he predicted the sex of our son Chris. Thus, we had no reason to doubt his interpretation this time around.

When he told us we were having another boy, I relaxed. Privately, I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to learn how to do tea parties on the floor, play with dolls, and watch My Pretty Pony. I’m a guy. I know how to do guy stuff. Raising another boy would be a piece of cake. 

Laurel and I were so convinced that we were going to have a boy that we didn’t even bother to think through possible names for a girl. Our second son was going to be Sean Jacob. 

But in the delivery room we were in for the surprise of our lives. When the labor/delivery nurse announced, “It’s a girl,” Laurel didn’t believe it. 

“I’m standing right here looking at her,” I replied. “She’s definitely a girl.” 

Laurel still wouldn’t believe until we showed her. 

I was delighted to have a healthy little girl, but scared to death. Would I get everything “right”? Would I be able to relate to a daughter? 

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. 

Charlene taught me everything I needed to know. All I had to do was love her, and she took it from there. Nineteen years later I look back and realize that, like Indiana Jones, I pretty much made it up as we went along. 

It’s easy to panic when faced with the daunting task of parenting. The sheer numbers of “how-to-parent” books on bookstore shelves is evidence that many people feel inadequate, especially when facing today’s world. I read quite a few of the parenting books, and although there were good principles in them, I often walked away confused. 

Children don’t come with instruction manuals. There’s no 1-2-3-a-b-c, handy dandy outline for raising children. There’s no formula or template that guarantees success. There’s no list of “10 Rules for Being a Perfect Dad.” 

For me, it mostly involved a lot of prayer, trusting God, and living one day at a time. 

And for the record, I never had to watch My Pretty Pony. 

James Pence is a performance chalk artist, singer, speaker, published author, editor and collaborator, and in his spare time he teaches karate, writing, and art to homeschooled children. James has been called a “Renaissance man,” but he prefers to be known simply as a follower of Jesus Christ and a storyteller.

James is a powerful storyteller and is comfortable speaking to any age group. If you’d be interested in booking James, contact him at:

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