Rob Kenney

Rob Kenney 

Rob Kenney never imagined he would one day be known as “the internet’s dad,” let alone be a full-time YouTuber. On his YouTube channel, “Dad, How Do I?” the South Sound resident uploads practical “dadvice for everyday tasks.”

Kenney starts each video with a warm, “Hey, kids!” and proceeds to offer a short and simple how-to “task of the day,” such as how to tie a tie, do taxes, or make mashed potatoes.

The idea for the YouTube channel came years ago, but Kenney said he procrastinated until he was successfully encouraged by his daughter, Kristine, during the COVID lockdown to officially pursue it. Kenney uploaded his first video, “How to Tie a Tie,” on April 2, 2020. He expected it to reach between 30-40 people at most; instead, the video went viral. Comments were overwhelmed with gratitude, with many sharing personal stories about not having a father figure to teach them basic skills — tying a tie being one of them. It wouldn’t be long before people started referring to Kenney as “the internet’s dad.”

“I was trying to boil it down into some nuggets for people so they could come in, and I wouldn’t waste their time. They just come in and learn how to do things,” Kenney told South Sound recently. “I wasn’t planning to do it to switch careers; I didn’t do it for anything other than just (a) sincere desire to help people.”

Kenney’s father left his family when he was 14. Although it was a tough time for him and his siblings, Kenney chooses not to dwell on it, preferring to use his experience to encourage others to forgive.

“I think the forgiveness piece is such a big part,” he said of his videos. “I would love for people to be able to forgive, even though it’s difficult. Way too many of us spend time holding things against each other which is wasted energy, in my opinion. … Forgiving my dad was one thing, but the daily act of being able to forgive is still human. And so, I struggle with it, and I heed my own advice.”

Kenney’s channel has expanded to more than just how-tos since its 2020 launch. He also shares videos focused on money, general life wisdom, and more. We reached out to discuss his video process, the channel’s future, and other topics.

When you’re planning your content, how do you choose which lessons to discuss?

I’m constantly trying to think of stuff that would have been helpful to me. … (I’m) just trying to produce content that I think would be helpful to people. My “Wisdom Wednesdays” that I do are a lot of times what I might be going through. I put things into perspective, even for myself. I think there are just so many little nuggets out there that I’ve learned the hard way, and a lot of times, people don’t talk about stuff. I’m like, “How come people don’t share this knowledge with people, like financial stuff?” It’s stuff you deal with all the time. We should be sharing to empower the next generation.

When did you realize your channel was more than just dad advice and how-tos?

Reading the comments (on my channel), people are pretty vulnerable. It brings tears to my eyes still (reading) some of the stuff that I hear from people … I think when I first heard that somebody was watching my “How to Tie a Tie” video and was sobbing, that was when I realized, “OK, this is more than just me showing how to tie a tie.” There’s more of an emotional connection that people are making with me as a dad. I feel like God has given me this platform to try to share his love with people. I think that’s what I’ve kind of landed on. I believe that I’ve been given this platform, and I’ve tried to be responsible with it, too.

You’ve been open about your dad leaving when you were young. Can you share more on how that impacted you and your seven siblings, and how you overcame that difficult time?

It was tough. I’m embarrassed to say that it took me so long to forgive my dad. … It took me a long time to get over that part of it. But you know, now I look back on it, and with interviews, it’s been therapeutic to kind of talk through it. … He died about 10 years ago, and before he died, we were able to reconcile. I forgave him before he actually asked for it, but then he did end up asking for it. I believe I’m going to see him again.

You receive many comments from viewers expressing their gratitude and sharing their personal stories without a father. What does that mean to you to be filling a void on the internet?

I feel a responsibility to do what God would have me do. I always feel like I have to make sure people understand to put me in the proper perspective of, “I’m not the standard.” If you put your trust in people, ultimately, they at some point will disappoint you, because I am just a man. I have to keep the perspective that this really isn’t about me. I’m just trying to be faithful to the platform God has given me and try to do what he would have me do.

You’ve done so many great things since starting your YouTube channel, such as writing a book. Tell me more about that.

When my channel went viral, we were juggling it as fast as we could. I was actually on my bed crying because I couldn’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. My face was everywhere on the internet. … Then I got offers from several big-name publishers that wanted me to write a book. (I) never thought in a million years I’d be writing a book. … They asked me what I wanted to share, and I shared that I’d like to highlight my siblings. At my 50th birthday party, I went around to each of my siblings — because we relied on each other when our family split up — and so I wanted to kind of highlight them and honor them. I went around and talked about the different character traits that I thought would be good for people. At the back, I have 58 how-tos. Some ranging from different money topics, like the Rule of 72 is in there. Other how-tos like (tips on) cooking, how to do car maintenance, (and) lots of different things.

What is your hope for the future of “Dad, How Do I?”

Again, trying to be faithful. I think there’s much more that can be done, but I just want to do what God would have me do. There’s been talk of a TV show, but it never really seems to grab. You know, one compliment I always liked that people make when they come to my channel, they say, “This is so wholesome.” … That’s what I want it to be. I’m still just trying to produce content that I think would be helpful. … I do think that there are multiple roads we could go down. Maybe start teaching some classes and traveling. … I think if I can encourage dads to the cool responsibility of being a dad, that’s part of it, too. But also teach people how to do things so they can then teach others.

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