young boy wearing oversized white dress shirt and tie

Man abandoned by his Dad at 14, makes videos teaching children what dads normally teach kids

In conversations about parenthood, much of the discussion ends up focusing on the mother’s role in a child’s life, but fathers carry equal importance. Not only do they often teach their children many hard skills, like how to change a tire, throw a baseball, or tie a tie, but fathers also are critically important in the development of a child’s mental and emotional development. One man decided he wanted to do something to help all fatherless children, so he created a YouTube basic skills channel to help teach them basic life skills.

Sadly, there are many children who are missing this important relationship in their lives. In the United States, nearly twenty million children grow up without a dad, and for many it has a profound impact on who they become as adults [1].

YouTube Basic Skills – Dad, How Do I?

On his YouTube basic skills channel, Dad, How Do I? Rob Kenney shares what he calls practical “dadvice” for everyday tasks. His videos cover topics like checking the oil, checking your tire pressure, how to fix a running toilet, how to tie a tie, and how to iron a dress shirt [2].

Since its inception, however, his channel has grown into much more than just practical advice.

“I want it to be about everyday tasks, but I also would like to pass along some of the wisdom I’ve learned along the way to encourage people,” Rob said. “… I thought I was just going to be showing people how to do stuff, but it’s kind of resonating on a whole different level.”

A Tragic Backstory

Rob’s desire to help people who grew up without a father was born out of his own childhood experience. Although his family was initially what one might deem as “normal”, things began to go downhill as he reached his adolescent years. His mother developed an alcohol problem, and when Rob was just fourteen years old his father decided that he’d had enough of his children and left, leaving Rob’s older siblings to look after the family.

“He said, ‘You know, I’m done having kids. … You’re going to have to figure out where these kids are going because otherwise I’m putting them in foster homes,’”. 

Rob now has two adult children of his own, who are both well on their way to having successful careers in their chosen fields.

“My goal in my life was to raise good adults,” Rob said. “I never wanted to be wealthy. I never wanted to be necessarily successful. My goal in life was to raise good adults — not good children but good adults — because I had a fractured childhood.”

Rob Kenney

The Importance of Dad

Throughout history, the role of the father has been often diminished, and parenting has often fallen on the mother’s shoulders alone. Throughout the twentieth century, however, there has been a radical shift in the way we view fathers, and a significant amount of research has gone into determining the effect a father has on his children.

A report published in “Fathers and their Impact on Children’s Wellbeing”, stated that children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and have better social connections as they get older [3].

Additional research has also been done comparing the impact of mothers and fathers, and the results have shown that the love or rejection of a mother or a father equally affects kids’ behavior, self-esteem, emotional stability, and mental health [4].

Ronald P. Rohner, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, said that sometimes, the father may even have a greater impact on the child than the mother.

“In some cases, the withdrawal of a father’s love seems to play a bigger role in kids’ problems with personality and psychological adjustment, delinquency, and substance abuse,” he explained [4].

Children often look to their fathers to provide a sense of physical and emotional security. Children often want their fathers to be proud of them, and an involved father can promote inner growth and strength.

Fathers can set the bar for their children with regard to relationships with others. For their daughters, dads serve as an example of how they should expect to be treated in a relationship, and the way their father acts toward them, their mother, and other people can greatly affect the kinds of relationships that she has when she is older.

For boys, a dad is an example of how a man should behave in a relationship, and how he should act not only toward women but how he should treat others as well. Boys model themselves after their father’s character, so if a dad treats others with respect and kindness, likely his son will, too [5].

Read: Mom wants to give Down syndrome son to foster care, loyal dad refuses and raises him on his own

An Outpouring of Appreciation

Rob Kenney

Rob Kenney’s YouTube basic skills channel has exploded in popularity, and now has over 850 thousand subscribers. He has received countless notes of thanks and appreciation from viewers who, like him, grew up without a father and missed out on many of the lessons that their dad would have taught them.

He has since posted a video thanking viewers for their support, describing how overwhelmed he has been at the response, referring to himself as “an emotional wreck”. He explained that while he doesn’t think he’s “cornered the market” on how to fix things, he’s hoping to empower others to try to figure things out themselves. 

He also took it as an opportunity to drop a little word of advice to other dads out there.

“I didn’t always do everything right with my kids… you’re gonna fail as a dad, it’s part of the human experience,” he said.  “You aren’t going to always do things right so I think it’s very important to ask for forgiveness and not pretend that you’ve got it all figured out, cause your kids are gonna find out sooner or later that you don’t have it figured out when they grow up- they don’t remain little for long and the window that you have them is such a short time.” [6]

He also made sure to get one good dad joke in his YouTube basic skills channel too, since a good sense of humor is definitely a skill.

“Did you hear the rumour about the butter? Well I’m not gonna spread it.”

Keep Reading: Girl, Age 8, Asked Marine Stepdad To Officially Adopt Her In Heartwarming Clip


  1. The Statistics Don’t Lie: Fathers Matter.” Fatherhood
  2. Dad Who Grew Up Without A Father Starts Basic Skills YouTube Channel.” Scary Mommy. Cassandra Stone. May 20, 2020.
  3. The Importance of Fathers.” Psychology Today. Ditta M. Oliker Ph.D. June 23, 2011.
  4. Dads Play Important Role in Lessening Effects of Mom’s Depression, Study Says.” Parents. Hollee Actman Becker. May 16, 2017
  5. THE IMPORTANCE OF A FATHER IN A CHILD’S LIFE.” Pediatrics of Franklin
  6. THANK YOU! | Dad, how do I?Youtube. May 19, 2020.

This article originally appeared on The Hearty Soul in May 2020 and has been published here with permission.