Spotlight Stories: Jake Kasper

Jake

Spartan Spotlight Stories

Spotlight Stories highlights Spartans and issues that are important to the MSU WorkLife Office. The series is starting with new parents raising infants and breastfeeding. Other topics to come will include building community at MSU, eldercare, flex schedules, raising teens and more. The goal is to build community at MSU, show people they are not alone, bring awareness to important stages of the lifespan and promote a family-friendly workplace and family-friendly policies.  

Topic: Fatherhood

Jake Kasper, Academic Integrity Specialist in the Dean of Students Office, shares his view on fatherhood as experienced in parenting his four children:Claire (8), Jude (6), Evan (3), & Grant (18 months).

What do you wish you knew before you had your children?

I wish I had known there’s absolutely no way to prepare for having children. It’s essential to be comfortable with ambiguity because there’s no way to have all the answers. As a result of the unknown, I found that it was critical to have a strong relationship with my spouse because we were going on an epic journey without a map.  

What was/is the most challenging part about parenting while working? 

The most challenging part is anticipating the unknown. As a parent, you never know which kid is going to get sick or need help with certain projects. You never know what you’re walking into after work, yet your family needs you to be 100% present. It can be challenge to give 100% for MSU students and colleagues and then turnaround and provide the same level of effort with my family.  

What does it mean to you to be a father? 

To me, being a father is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I have a great responsibility to raise them to be the best humans they can. Being a father means supporting, encouraging, and challenging my children to grow and learn every day. As a father I learn about grace every day…grace for my children, grace for spouse, and grace for myself. Nobody’s perfect and we as a family must have grace with each other and those we encounter.   

What supports helped you be successful in balancing work and parenting?

The number one support I’ve found is be in constant communication and on the same page with my spouse. If I need to work late or go in early, my spouse picks up the slack with the kids. On the flip side, if my spouse has other obligations, I need to be flexible to leave work early to pick kids up from school or whatnot. Having an office environment where I’m able to make these calendar adjustments is essential. I’m so grateful to work with such an understanding Dean of Students team! 

Did you attend any classes or read any books that were helpful to you about parenting?

We like to apply some love and logic principles in our parenting. Also, I use a lot of motivational interviewing in my work with students as well as with my kids. I’ve read several books about parenting, specifically I’ve really enjoyed:

  • “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters”- Meg Meeker
  • “The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family” – Patrick Lencioni
  • “Boundaries” – Henry Cloud

However, no matter how hard I try…I have not found the Fatherhood manual! 

How did you prioritize work, family, outside activities after you became a parent, or currently? 

Having kids drastically shifted my priorities. Previously, my career existed so that I could support students and colleagues. Now with children the emphasis shifted my why. Now I can support students and colleagues in order to provide for my family. This rewarding shift helps me maintain a bigger picture perspective of my role.  

It also helps me figure out my priorities when I understand that there are multiple seasons in life. For my spouse and I, this is our season of chaos. We have 4 extremely dependent humans in our house and we need to make sure they make it to the next season of life successfully. Because of the chaos, we must continue to exercise grace and teach our children about being inclusive and caring of all people. 

What was the biggest surprise you had as a parent?

I don’t think I realized how ‘self-centered’ I was until we had children. I think having children helps you view the world differently and causes you to take more responsibility to making sure that you leave a strong legacy. 

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis…”Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” It’s a challenge to balance the requirements of work and family because both are extremely important. I’ve always said we serve our students better when things are stable and secure on the home front. 

How did/does your supervisor or coworker support you and your family?

The Dean of Students team has been extremely supportive. They care about the whole person. Everyone on the team understands that families are a priority. When one of us has to tend to a family need, the rest of the team works extra hard to make sure the services and support to the MSU community remain strong.  

Is there anything that you would do differently regarding parenting and work-life balance?

Since I’ve only been working at MSU for 6 months, I haven’t had the opportunity to bring my kids to many MSU events. I’m excited to bring them to more events and programs at MSU. I’m proud to be a Spartan and I’m even more proud of my kids!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

There is absolutely no way I could be a half the father I am if it weren’t for my spouse, Holly. Our faith in God and in each other has helped us work through each stage of parenting. We truly see our roles as stewards and we’re grateful for the opportunity to raise such wonderful children. 

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