Rob Kenney’s dad left home just when he needed a father’s practical wisdom – now Rob is filling the gap for other teenagers.
Rob Kenney was a teenager when his father left, leaving him with what he describes as a “fractured” upbringing. So to help fill the gap for other kids growing up without dads, Rob – from Chicago in the US – started his own ‘dadvice’ YouTube channel.
“Dad, How Do I?” has become something of an internet sensation since its launch just a couple of months ago, after a tweet mentioning the channel went viral. As of the end of May, it boasted 2.1 million subscribers.
So what’s so special about Dad, How Do I? Essentially it’s a series of videos offering what might be described as dadvice, the sort of practical tips dads traditionally pass onto their kids. The channel’s most watched video is about fixing running toilets, while others tackle similarly useful skills, like unclogging sinks, putting up shelves, checking the air pressure in tyres and ironing a dress shirt.
Dadvice and more
There isn’t much more to it than that. So given you can find YouTube videos on just about anything under the sun – including how to put up shelves – what magic ingredient does Rob possess?
It’s not magic at all. Rob is simply calm, humble, charming and very dad-like, in a loving and understated way. He throws in the odd terrible dad joke, and we mean terrible (“I was thinking of going on an all almond diet, but that was just nuts!”) and seems genuinely overwhelmed by the attention he’s getting. It’s all very wholesome, and also kind of heart warming.
Being the dad you want
To put it simply, Rob seems like the sort of dad you’d want, if you didn’t have one. “I never wanted to be wealthy. I never wanted to be necessarily successful,” Kenney told Shattered magazine in a recent interview. “My goal in life was to raise good adults—not good children but good adults—because I had a fractured childhood.”
Rob was abandoned by his father and had a dysfunctional relationship with his mother, something that clearly chimes with his audience. “I don’t miss my dad, but I miss the dad I could have had… the dad who did this stuff with me,” wrote one follower on Twitter. Another commented: “The Dad, How Do I? YouTube account is so precious and wholesome I’m so happy people are subscribing.”
I don’t miss my dad, but I miss the dad I could have had… the dad who did this stuff with me,
Rob said he’d been planning to make dadvice videos on the kind of things that aren’t taught in school for a while, but the coronavirus quarantine had finally given him the opportunity. “I had lots of excuses, but while we’re in quarantine, I ran out of excuses,” Rob said. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”
But he is equally proud of the community his channel is helping to create.
In one recent video he said: “I’m so grateful for the community that you guys are building. When I see all the comments and if somebody sees that someone is hurting, you’re respondent and walking alongside them. I love that.”
Dadvice is important
Of course, there’s loads of “dad skill” tips out there on the internet. The Express even published a poll a few years ago on the top 50 dad skills, which included putting up a tent, fixing a puncture and un-doing difficult knots. A few…how shall we put it…more 21st century skills, like setting up the WiFi, were in there too. Nearly everyone questioned for the poll (96%) thought it important for dads to be handy.
A more recent poll, featured in the Independent, updated the list of dad skills to include taking turns on the night feed with the baby, doing the school run, and knowing how to braid hair. These are dad skills for the truly modern man, who should be able to cook dinner, navigate “the chat” (whatever that is), and set up a games console (not necessarily at the same time).
Finally, for those who want to really master dad skills, and be able to pass that wisdom onto their children, perhaps this book – 101 Amazing Dad Skills – is the answer. In it you’ll find advice on everything from making the best roast potatoes in the world to managing a sleepover party. So in other words, great advice for dads right now, and great dadvice for dads to pass onto their own children, when the time is right.