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Strong foundation helps dad build family
Kennedy, Madison, Darren and Shelley Doty have dinner each night the old-fashioned way, together at the dining room table. And they keep in touch by talking.
LAKEWOOD – Darren Doty builds custom homes.
So it makes sense that in building his family he started with the foundation. Since his children were young, they have always spent time together.
“I try to be involved in everything the kids are doing, encouraging them and letting them know they can count on me,” he said.
Doty, 48, owns Double D Custom Homes. He and his wife, Shelley, have two girls, Madison, 18, and Kennedy, 15. He also has a stepson, Taylor, 24.
As Father’s Day arrives Sunday, June 15, Doty shared tips on being a good father.
One is to be involved with their lives. Doty said he never wanted to be a father who dropped off his kids and went somewhere else.
“We wanted to always do things together as a family,” he said.
One thing the entire family is involved in is the Marysville Strawberry Festival. Both girls have been junior royalty. Last year, Madison was the overall festival queen. This year, as in previous ones, the family is on the float crew.
“We go to most of the parades,” Doty said, adding that’s about 20.
He said it takes about 45 minutes to set up and take down the float for each parade. They are involved in the painting and making of props.
The girls have some funny parade memories. Their dad, who drives the float, once had to push it up a hill in Leavenworth. In doing so, he lost the sole of his shoe.
“We joke that he lost his soul in Leavenworth,” Shelley said, adding he looked like he had clown shoes on that were flapping all around.
Another thing the family does is eat together.
“We started at an early age, so it was easy to continue,” Doty said.
The girls said they love it.
“It’s a tradition; every single night we have dinner together,” Madison said.
Their dad sometimes takes out a news article, reads it, and they discuss it.
“We talk about how it affects us and what choices we would make,” Shelley said.
They don’t even answer their phones at dinner time, Kennedy added with a smile.
The family also loves to go water skiing, knee boarding, wakeboarding and inner tubing on Lake Goodwin.
The girls talked about when Kennedy learned to slalom ski at age 13. Madison said of Kennedy, “She wanted to do a rooster tail like dad.”
The first time she “did a total face plant,” Kennedy said. But her dad kept encouraging her to try again.
She eventually did one, but it was “super small,” Madison teased. But Kennedy proudly said, “It was just like dad’s.”
The family loves to go camping and on trips together. One trip lasted three weeks as they flew to the East Coast then drove to New York, Washington D.C. and Boston. They saw the Mayflower, monuments in the nation’s capitol and the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building.
“The girls still talk about it,” their dad said. “When they learned about it in school they could say, “I’ve been there, done that.”
The family also goes to Grove Church together. They are greeters and help with outreach.
“Our faith gives us guidance,” Doty said. “It gives us structure for all of the decisions we make.”
Doty said another way he has succeeded in keeping his family close is by keeping track of his children’s friends.
“Who are they hanging out with? Are they making the right choices? We talk about what can happen if they don’t go down the right path,” he said.
Madison said she has a friend whose family rules are just like theirs.
“I have that same homey feeling there,” she said.
Shelley said one advantage they have is while they go to school and work in town, they live in rural Lakewood.
“They can’t run to their friends’ house because it’s so far to go,” Shelley said.
Doty said it can be a challenge, but a dad has to stay involved when the kids become teenagers.
“Make sure they are doing the right activities and staying away from temptation, peer pressure,” he said.
This is a busy time of year with Madison graduating from both Marysville-Pilchuck High School and Everett Community College as a Running Start student. She has received several scholarships from the festival, school and Soroptomists to attend Central Washington University, which is where her parents went. She also recently received a President’s Award for community service.
Kennedy, who will be a sophomore, and Madison both want to be teachers, the older one for high school, the younger for grade school. Both help their mom, who is the librarian at Pinewood Elementary, tutor kids after school and read to them on certain summer days.
So, what makes Doty a good dad?
Helping with homework, Kennedy said.
Supporting us, whether it’s Kennedy with her piano or my sports, Madison added.
Shelley said what makes him a good dad is that he can arrange his work schedule “to be there when the girls need him. It’s a sacrifice. He puts off sometimes what he needs to do. But it’s worth it for us in the long run.”
His wife said adult time also is important.
“It enhances what the kids get out of him,” Shelley said.
Doty also likes to surprise the girls. Once, the parents let the girls go to a neighbors to play. When they came back, all their luggage was packed.
“They had no clue. They burst into tears as we told them we were going to Disneyland,” Shelley said.
Like most dads, Doty isn’t perfect.
“He could share his ice cream cones,” Shelley teased.
“He could allow me to drive the boat, his baby,” Madison said.
“He could say yes when I really want something, even when I know the right answer is no,” Kennedy said.
Doty said being a dad is rewarding.
“I’m very proud,” he said. “My favorite thing is just watching them grow and mature and seeing the choices they make.”
Doty said he really doesn’t have the secret on what it takes to be a good father.
“Every parent wishes there was some magical thing they could do, but it’s out of our control. Love them, and do all you can for them. But they have to make the choices,” he said.