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Being Dad on the Internet

Bellevue Lifestyle connected with the man whose online videos feel like a hug

Rob Kenney is an internet sensation. The man behind @DadhowdoI on YouTube (Over 4.5 million subscribers) and on Instagram (125K followers) grew up in Bellevue as the seventh of eight kids. His dad left the family when Kenney was 14 years old, leaving them to fend for themselves. Reflecting on his own struggles as a youth, Kenney says “There can be a victimhood mentality - it sometimes feels good, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. You can learn from your past, but it’s not helpful to drag the past into your future.” 

Channeling his own life experience, Kenney decided to make videos demonstrating skills that many fathers teach their kids, but other kids miss out on. With help from his daughter, and the blessing of his son, Kenney started posting the videos online.

Kenney’s content is a light in the darkness of the internet. Featuring lessons like how to change a tire and how to fish, he says “I thought I was just going to be showing people how to do things in a calm way, but sometimes people are crying watching me tie a tie.” The empathy and earnestness Kenney displays in his videos touch people all over the world. He’s had viewers leaving comments from Kuwait, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, and more.  Some of the comments can be “a little heartbreaking,” as people confide their own struggles and fatherlessness. He is particularly touched by the stories of foster kids aging out of the system, and hopes to shine a light on the challenges they face. 

As followers have enjoyed his cooking videos because they like the feeling of “hanging out” with him, Kenney plans to do a travel series that allows people to do just that as he explores New York and Turkey. He tries to help people with his videos, and despite his newfound fame, “I’m just a normal guy,” Kenney says, “and my family means more to me than anything in the world.” 

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