11 Questions with… Jason Dykstra
11 Mar 2019
Welcome to “11 Questions with…”. This edition’s guest is Jason Dykstra.
11 Questions with… Jason Dykstra
1. Elevator pitch… tell us about yourself.
Well, I’m a lot of different things to different people, but I guess the most consistent part about me is that I’m a husband and father. Other than that, I’m a mediator, coach, trainer, and speaker where I get the privilege and honour to be able to walk with folks as they turn conflict situations into creative solutions.
2. Your spouse… tell us about her.
Gina and I have been together for 15 years already and almost 11 years married. How do I describe her? She’s one of the toughest, sweetest, funniest, and determined people I know. She’s a police officer, volunteer with our church, busy mom that keeps all of us (myself included) in line, organized, and looking half-decent. The kids and I would be seriously in trouble if we didn’t have her!
3. Your kids… tell us about them.
We have 4 kids (3 living):
Our oldest and busiest, Carson, is 8 years old and he doesn’t stop moving. Seriously, he’ll be up by 6:30 every morning and run around until he goes to bed. He keeps us on our toes and doesn’t stop bringing the fun. He’s also a social butterfly, whenever we try and walk anywhere in our town, we have to stop at least 15 times so that he can talk to one of his friends.
Our second, Zoey, is 5. She’ll put on a princess dress and heels and be the fiercest ninja you’ve ever laid eyes on. She’s quiet when you first meet her, but once she gets comfortable, she won’t stop telling you stories. Zoey would spend her entire day playing in her imaginary world with her dolls, barbies and lego.
Our third child, Ezra, was born straight into the hands of God. It’s been 2 years without him already and not a day goes past that I don’t think about him. He’s taught me some incredible lessons about love, grief, life, and myself.
Our fourth child, Norah, is 1 and we have a feeling she’s going to be a lot like her older brother. Once you put her down, she doesn’t stop. She’s into everything, always willing to offer you a smile, and is already working on her stare-down (with great results).
4. Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
We have one dog that predates all of the kids. She’s 9 years old already and is a beautiful black lab mix. She’s probably the world’s laziest dog… we take her to my in-law’s farm once a week, and then she’s so exhausted she just sleeps the rest of the week. She always likes to keep track of where the kids are when they are outside and she loves to be in the water. Which is great…except she usually smells terrible.
5. What have been your biggest challenges as a parent?
There are so many that I could choose from here! Parenting is tough! Can I just pick parenting in general? But seriously, there are two that come to my mind. The first is when we lost our son Ezra. Watching our two oldest go through their own grief journeys was probably one of the hardest things (and continues to be) that I’ve ever journeyed through. The second, is staying present in the moment. I love the excitement of what the future may hold, so being present in the moment, and diving in has been a challenge.
6. If you could pick any career in the world for yourself, what would it be, and why?
In so many ways, I’m already in my career of choice. I get to walk beside people as they experience some difficult things, listen to people’s stories, and talk with people I typically wouldn’t get the chance to. It’s been really interesting to see how this career has quickly becoming a way of living rather then just a job. With that being said, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but I suspect that it doesn’t look too much different then it already does!
7. Growing up, who inspired you the most?
Oh man, there are so many people I could choose! I would probably say my Opa (grandfather). He was such a hardworking, empathetic, curious man that always had the perfectly timed joke. I looked up to him a lot when I was younger, and still do to this day. He taught me a ton!
8. How do you balance work life and family life?
To be honest, I don’t. I’m a 100% kind of guy. So there are times when my head is down and I’m working hard. Then there are other times that I am fully in family life mode. There’s no good blend, mix, or balance I don’t think. We just place our attention where we need to at that moment. My wife and I do our best to coordinate our work/family life so that one of us is always there. It’s hard work, but rewarding.
9. What advice would your “current self” give to your “just about to have my first child” self?
The first thing that comes to mind is: Be where you are. We’re always looking ahead to the next thing, the next milestone, the next stage in life. Be where you are. Enjoy each moment, dig in with curiosity, and laugh a lot.
10. Has there been a piece of advice you were given about parenting that really stuck with you?
Oh yeah… I can’t even remember who said it, but they said, “Your child is not a textbook, they are a human being.” I took it to mean that, yes, there are great resources, books, and blogs out there, but your child is uniquely them. The books won’t always work. What worked for others may not work for them. Get to know your kid intimately so you can find out together what will work best for them.
11. What advice would you give to new parents?
Take care of yourself. Invest in yourself. The better you are doing, the better your kids will do as well. It seems so simple, but anyone with kids knows just how difficult it really is to (from time to time) put yourself first to fill up your tanks. If you’re always giving and never filling up your own tank, you’re going to be running on empty pretty quick!
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“11 Questions with…” is an on-going feature. I will be interviewing parents with the same 11 questions, who like me, live in the digital world. The goal is to examine different perspectives, advice, challenges, and experiences from how people parent their children, and live a successful work / life / online balance.
With all the challenges of parenting these days, we could all use stories from fellow parents, who may have already gone through a similar experience, or were offered advice that you could use.
If you would like to be interviewed for an upcoming edition, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.