Friday Harbor’s father-daughter duo

San Juan Island’s dynamic father-daughter duo Josh and Danielle Crossen have been through thick and thin together. Josh has worked not just to become a better person himself, but teach Danielle to become a successful grown-up and be the best person she can be as well.

“Parenting is one of the most selfless things you can do,” Josh said, explaining that being a parent opened his eyes to what life is really about, seeing the bigger picture, the world beyond the self.

Josh became a single father after Danielle’s mother died suddenly in 2013. Danielle was only 5 years old at that time. Raising Danielle has made Josh become more responsible, he said, and he realized life isn’t just about him. Before his daughter, Josh explained, he lived his life as he wished, not worrying about a serious career and content living in a small apartment.

“I had to get my life on track,” Josh, who works at Islanders Bank, explained.

While raising a young girl might raise difficulties for some single dads, due to gender differences, Josh had the advantage of growing up with sisters. Between his siblings and his mother, Josh learned the inside scoop regarding what to expect from a daughter.

Danielle is a bit of a tomboy, he noted. She loves sports and outdoor activities and has played T-ball since she was 4. Josh said watching her skills progress over the years has been amazing. Now 11 years old, Danielle was selected to play on Friday Harbor Elementary School’s all-star softball team in a tournament that will take place near Everett. The all-star games are scheduled for Father’s Day weekend.

“Going to her game is a good enough Father’s Day present for me,” Josh said.

Josh noted that Danielle usually makes him a card, or some crafty item for Father’s Day. Traditionally in the evening, the father-daughter team continues celebrating by going out to dinner.

When asked what she loves most about her father, and what she would want people to know about him, Danielle simple said, “He is the best, he is awesome.”

As far as any tips for other fathers in general, Josh said, “[Being a dad] is hard, really hard. Just do the best you can. Try to keep an open mind and remember they are their own person.”

Engaging the child, keeping them busy and out of trouble helps too, he laughed. To capture their attention effectively, understanding a child’s likes and dislikes is key to parenting. Noticing where the youth excel and areas they may need additional support is also important. Recognizing those basic personality characteristics in a child can help encourage and guide young individuals toward honing their skills. Occasionally that means giving the youth a gentle encouraging push.

“Danielle loves softball, and she’s good at it,” Josh explained. “But, I still have to encourage her to practice sometimes.”

Josh added that while plenty of fathers fit the curmudgeonly absentee parent stereotype that is seen in sitcoms, many more dads participate consistently in their children’s lives. Some dads may not even technically be a child’s biological father, Josh continued, and yet they become involved in the young person’s life as an acting parent.

“Anyone one who takes on parenting deserves credit,” he said, reiterating that given how much work goes into raising a child, stepping in as an acting parent is definitely one of the most selfless things a person can do.

When asked what he hopes to instill in his daughter, Josh said, to be an open-minded caring individual, and continue to grow as a person.

“To be better than me,” he said. “Isn’t that what most parents hope? That their children will be better than them?”