In my sophomore year of high school, my friends and I revelled in the evenings spent gathering around each other's living rooms. A typical evening for us revolved around snacks, Netflix and the latest Youtube videos. Youtube was our source for popular music, gaming and practical jokes. Some of our favourite Youtubers included Jenna Marbles, Markiplier and Roman Atwood. I lived in an idyllic neighbourhood and recall many fond memories of my childhood.
Suddenly, my entire world changed.
One evening after school, my mother informed me that my father had passed away suddenly from a heart attack. This was deeply distressing for me as I had been very close with my father. I was sixteen years old at the time and had not yet learned all the life skills necessary for adult success. In Canada, sixteen years old is the age youths become eligible to get their driver's license. By the time I entered senior year most of my friends had gotten licensed, bought or borrowed cars and were learning how to maintain them. Life began to feel like it was passing me by.
I felt lost without my father. My mother helped as much as she could but due to legal complications she spent years preoccupied with my father's estate. As an only child, I didn't have the option of being mentored by an older brother or sister. The closest extended family member to me lived 400 kilometres away. Upon graduation I was thrust into the world, largely unaware of the skills deficit I had. I did not know how to drive a car, did not have a driver's license and did not know how to fix basic mechanisms. From this, I realized the true importance of father figures.
In my early twenties, I often felt embarrassed to ask for help. I was reluctant to explain my circumstances to others due to fear of being regarded as a burden or receiving pity. I turned to Youtube. I thought that if I could look up instructional videos for the things I didn't know how to do, I could teach myself how to do them. I was determined to catch up with my peers and wanted to help others struggling with the same predicament. I found a few channels with useful tips, but the Dad, how do I? Youtube channel was the one that really made a difference.
Dad, how do I? is a Youtube channel created by Rob Kenney, a father of two from Chicago, Illinois. According to an interview with Shattered magazine, Kenney's father left him and his brothers at a young age. Kenney's mother was affected by alcohol addiction during his upbringing. As a result of adverse circumstances, Kenney entered adulthood with limited parental support. Upon hearing his story, I felt an immediate kinship with Kenney. I was also relieved that I was not alone in my struggles.
Kenney created Dad, how do I? on April 1, 2020 to "do [his] best to provide useful, practical content to many basic tasks that everyone should know how to do.” Below is the Dad, how do I? video titled "How to change a tire."
On Dad, how do I?, Kenney covers various practical knowledge topics such as how to change a tire, how to put up a shelf, and how to fix most running toilets. Kenney also films videos where he explains the functions and uses of common tools. Additionally, Kenney films content where he reads stories to the audience and advises on moral values. Perhaps the most heartwarming segments of the Dad, how do I? channel are those where Kenney entertains viewers with corny dad jokes.
As a now 25 year old woman, I can conclude that Dad, how do I? has had a positive impact on my life. Kenney's videos as well as the Dad, how do I? Youtube community helped me regain my confidence. I finally feel secure in my ability to navigate the challenges of adulthood. I have also learned to ask for help when I need it. Most importantly, I have learned that I am not alone. Five months after its conception, Dad, how do I? boasts an impressive 2.7 million subscribers.
Had I not been exposed to other Youtubers as a teenager I would have never found Dad, how do I?. For that I offer thanks to Jenna Marbles, Markiplier and Roman Atwood. I believe that community is an integral part of personal growth and healing. If a channel like Dad, how do I? existed when I was a youth, I would have gained independence more quickly and felt less isolated. Youtube is an excellent resource for youth to seek community as most adolescents are already a part of it.
In the future, I would like to see more Youtube content like Dad, how do I?. I believe a channel featuring a mother would be equally as helpful to youth who lack mother figures in their lives. Through channels like Dad, how do I?, content creators can reach vulnerable youth on a much larger scale. Regardless of your life circumstances, you too can overcome adversity. Rob Kenney and dads all over the world are proud of you.
Below is the Dad, how do I? video titled "I'm proud of you!" In this video, Kenney motivates youth by reciting the poem Daring Greatly by Theodore Roosevelt.