‘Dad, how can I?’ YouTube videos give the fatherly advice we all need

They say you can find just about anything on YouTube. Maybe even the father you never had – or at least the fatherly guidance and affirmation.

“Hey, kids! » That’s how internet savvy guru Rob Kenney often greets his more than 3 million followers on his popular “Dad, how do I?” YouTube channel that quickly became a hit. He features his now classic instant DIY videos, including how to tie a tie, “How do I shave my face?” and inspirational messages such as “I’m proud of you” and “You got it!” as well as weird, adorably goofy dad jokes.

Kenney said his motivation for the channel stemmed from his difficult childhood after his father left their family when he was a teenager. He and his seven siblings longed for someone to teach them basic survival skills. Kenney has long since forgiven her father and started making videos last April during the COVID-19 pandemic to share with her two adult children, Kristine and Kyle, thinking they might be passed on to her grandchildren one day.

Now Kenney, known as the “internet dad” among his many nicknames, has an extended family of all ages.

In addition to his two popular websites, Kenney has written a new book, “Dad, How Do I Do It?” : Practical advice for daily tasks and a successful life”, just in time for Father’s Day. It’s part advice and part DIY with 50 how-to guides and helpful line art. It also has product endorsements and possibly a TV show in the works.

Kenney took time out of his busy schedule to speak with USA TODAY about his sudden success, his new book, what lies ahead and how his family keeps him humble.

Questions and answers may have been edited for length, clarity and flow.

Q: Why do you think your videos reached so many people so quickly? What do you think was the best advice you think you gave through them?

It happened by surprise since my first video went viral. I guess you could consider it the perfect storm.

I only expected to help about 30-40 people. Watch the videos to learn how to tie a tie and do car maintenance and other things outside the house. I just wanted to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren. Now I’ve been doing some stuff about your life prospects.

I wasn’t trying to do anything deep. It’s been pretty humbling trying to pour some kindness into the world.

Q: Are the videos on your channel meant to teach others? What has your channel taught you?

All this taught me a lot. My wife, Annelli, and I will both turn 57 this year, and we were planning our retirement and a supposedly normal life, until our early 60s, and then it happened. Now we’re trying to navigate all of this.

On a personal level, it opened my eyes to the need for men who are fathers to hold on for their children. If I can encourage a father to think long-term about this, it’s about making the right choices and making the right decisions for his children.

The goal for us was to have our children standing on our shoulders. We tell them, “You can take more risks than us, because we couldn’t afford to take more risks than you. We tried to encourage our children, to let them know that we are there for them and to support them in every way possible, because they still had to earn a living.

Q: As you know, technology and screen time are often criticized. What’s the point of connecting to hands-on instructional channels like yours?

My channel is for all ages. I’ve had someone say, “I’m your 70-year-old kid,” while people much older than me say they look up to me because they miss their dad.

I want (my videos) to be a resource to be exploited. My goal was to make them short, but there are some things where the videos are going to take a little longer to watch.

I’ve started a new series, called “Dad Shorts”, where you might find me answering a question about what type of plaster to use? I try to keep them within a minute or two.

I want you to watch, but I don’t want you sitting in front of a screen all day.

Q: Tell us about your new book, “Dad, how to do? : Practical advice for daily tasks and a successful life » What can we expect?

It was a great process! I had never written a book before, so it was a bit scary. I talk about how family, faith and hope are my strengths and mean everything to me. I also give readers 50 practical tips, like how to iron a shirt properly, do the laundry, some basic cooking, and how to invest and manage money. There are also some bonuses. And some of them have illustrations and some advice we might be too scared or proud to ask.

Q: Do you have an example?

I always try to encourage dads to think long term about the time they spend with their kids because they won’t be 5 or 10 or 15 forever. They will become adults one day and if we make quick decisions and say “I’m done” there could be ramifications down the line. Time passes; don’t take this lightly. Do your best to be there for them.

Q: You talk about how your older brother, Rick, was a father figure to you when your father left, including allowing you to move in with him and his wife during your all-important teenage years. What importance did that have?

He made so many sacrifices not only for me but for all of our brothers and sisters. We needed each other. Rick is so selfless. He read the book, re-read it with me and the chapter on him speaks of his generosity, of all the generosity of my brothers and sisters.

Q: You also write in the book about forgiving your father. Can you tell us a bit about how it changed your life?

It wasn’t easy but I needed to be able to forgive him to be the man I am today. It was a big turning point in my life. I actually read an audio version of the book about how I forgave my dad, and broke down several times and cried in the studio. I told the other two guys there that I needed a few minutes to calm down.

I’m 57 and forgiveness is huge. I encourage all of us to be more forgiving. None of us are perfect. As a father, sometimes you need to ask your kids for forgiveness when you’re wrong, and if you lose touch with them because your pride is getting in your way, stay connected. Keep connecting with them.

Q: How do your children bring you back to earth regarding your sudden success?

They gave me a great perspective on it all. When it started, it was with my daughter, and she was into it. Then I asked my son, Kyle, because the last thing I wanted to do was have it affect him. And he said, “Dad, if I was 9 and you tried to be a father to other people and not to me, I would have a problem with that, but I’m fine.”

So much screen time! :How Parents Can Manage During a Prolonged Pandemic

Q: Do you have any of your fatherly (aka bad dad) jokes for us, as you say in your videos?

Ouch! Some, I laugh at myself. OK, here are a few:

An antenna and a satellite are married. The wedding wasn’t much, but the reception was amazing…

Oh, my brother gave me this one: My son, Kyle, said he didn’t understand cloning, and I said, “Well, that makes two of us!”

Raymond T. Helms