In what feels like a world full of bad news, corruption, and despair these days, we’re all in desperate need of a little bit of kindness and decency. A reminder, if you will, that there are still good and decent people out there in the world, you just have to look a little harder to find them right now.
But boy, did we find one.
Rob Kenney is the proud owner of a popular YouTube channel called, “Dad, how do I?” — where he serves as an “internet dad” and teaches people, young and old, the sort of “stereotypical” things a dad would teach their kids.
Kenney sadly suffered through a hard, tumultuous childhood, full of neglect and a serious lack of love and understanding. His parents divorced, and his mother was ultimately declared unfit to parent, after she turned to alcohol to cope with her life and sank into a deep depression, according to reporting from the Washington Post. This left Rob and his seven siblings under the care and custody of their father. But it seems the situation at his dad’s house wasn’t much better for Rob or the rest of the kids, as Kenney’s father soon found a girlfriend and began to completely ignore and neglect his eight children. According to the report, Rob’s father would stockpile the groceries before leaving all of his children at the house alone for upwards of a week. Just a little over a year later, Rob’s father abandoned him and his seven siblings altogether, telling the children, “I’m done raising kids.”
Rob, who was the seventh of eight children, was only 14-years-old at the time he was abandoned by his father and had no mother to his name.
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Kenney was left to move in with his 23-year-old newlywed brother, where they shared a cramped, 280-square-foot trailer in Bellevue, Washington. His teenage years were tough and full of understandable anger, confusion, and resentment for how his life was unfolding. But Rob did not let his circumstances dictate the path he would take in life, or who he would grow up to be.
Rob vowed early on to never let his children experience the sort of pain and suffering his parents put him through during his childhood. As he came out of his shell, Kenney quickly realized just how many others out there in the world had a story that was a lot like his.
Rob grew up and made a really good life for himself, marrying his love Annelli and having two children of his own — 26-year-old son Kyle and 29-year-old daughter Kristine Ponten. But once his children grew up and flew the proverbial nest, Rob felt that his life was still missing something. That’s when he started floating the idea of a YouTube channel to his family. The sudden upheaval that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to day-to-day life around the world created the perfect opening for Kenney to finally do something he felt would be fulfilling to him, and would serve to help others with a similar childhood to his own.
Kenney created his first YouTube video on April 2nd, in which he taught his handful of viewers how to properly tie a tie.
Rob’s follower count was slow but steady at first. But as more and more people were forced into a lonely solitude during the pandemic, Kenney quickly rose to viral internet fame. His daughter Kristine thinks this global tragedy helped her father gain the notoriety he has now, as people so desperately needed something good in life. “I don’t think it would’ve gone viral in another circumstance,” Ponten said of her father’s YouTube success. “It is definitely pandemic-specific regarding the beginnings of it.”
“I genuinely think he was put on Earth to be a dad,” his daughter sweetly added.
However, Kenney didn’t actually love the attention at first. In fact, he apparently nearly suffered a panic attack the first time one of his dad videos went viral. “It was terrifying,” Rob said. “At first, I didn’t look at it as a great thing.”
But in the end, Kenney was able to fall into the swing of things and was happy, knowing how much he was helping. “There’s so much more to being a dad or a mom than just fixing things,” Rob the “Internet Dad” said. “You have to share your heart with your kids.”
Kenney’s YouTube channel now boasts 3.95 million subscribers, and he describes his channel, “I will do my best to provide useful, practical content to many basic tasks that everyone should know how to do.”
In addition to teaching his viewers how to fix this and that, Rob also records and posts storytime videos and good old-fashioned dad chats.
Rob’s videos have unsurprisingly resonated with thousands of his viewers, with one follower writing, “My parents divorced when I was 15. I had to figure out how to tie my own tie and my mom taught me how to shave. Yes, I’m crying watching this. Thank you for being a Dad to so many kids. I’m 53 today, and I just wanted to say Thank You! And God bless you!!”
I don’t know about you, but this was exactly what I needed today.
Check out one of Kenney’s sweet videos here:
Featured image via screen capture