'Dad How Do I' creator shares heartfelt advice on life challenges, big and small

He didn't have a great dad growing up. Now, he's offering advice for millions of kids and adults like him.
/ Source: TODAY

After his "Dad, how do I?" YouTube page went viral, Rob Kenney became known as the "Mr. Rogers for adults."

The 55-year-old from Seattle, Washington, started the account as a way to pass on "dadvice," as he calls it, to people who, like him, grew up without a father figure. In his how-to videos, he's addressed a range of practical topics, from tying a tie to jump-starting a car, for his more than 2 million followers.

Even though he's gone viral for all the right reasons, the journey hasn't been easy. At the beginning, he was "an emotional wreck," he told TODAY Parents, because his viewers were sharing their own stories of growing up without a good father figure.

"The responses and the comments, that was a little overwhelming for me," he recalled.

Kenney had a hard childhood. His mother struggled with alcoholism, so his father took full custody of him and his siblings. But when Kenney was 14, his father "announced he didn't want to have kids anymore," Kenney said.

Kenney and his siblings.Courtesy of Rob Kenney

His older brother Rick took him in, even though Rick was a newlywed at the time and didn't have much space in his mobile home.

Now, Kenney has two children, Kristine, 27, and Kyle, 25. When he became a father, he had a powerful model for what not to be.

"At a very young age, I determined I wasn't gonna do that, that I wanted to do it the right way," he said.

Kenney and his wife and children.Courtesy of Rob Kenney

While most of Kenney's videos address tasks around the house, he wants to expand to heavier topics. A recent video titled "I'm proud of you!" encourages his followers, or "kids" as he calls them, to leave their comfort zone and not be afraid to take risks.

Here, Kenney shares more "dadvice" for complicated life challenges. As Kenney explained it, "There's more to being a dad than just running around and fixing things."

How to be a good dad, especially if you didn't grow up with one

"A big thing is admitting your faults to your kids ... If you pretend to be perfect, your kids are going to find out you're not, and that's where a lot of rebellion happens. (They think), 'Wait a second, he's been pretending to be perfect, and now I've discovered he's not. What else has he not been real with me about?' ... Kids are gracious. They're quick to forgive you if you just admit it, but unfortunately, we don't always ... Our pride gets in the way."

Why you should be on time

"It shows respect for the other person, and ... it takes a while to restore your good name if you blew it. ... If you tell somebody you're going to be there, you should be there, and if you're not going to be there on time, you better let people know. I just think it's a little bit disrespectful to not honor that."

How to deal with career setbacks

"Sometimes you have to think outside the box to move the needle. It's easy to just (think), 'This is my only way to get this thing going.' ... You've got to do something to separate yourself from all the other people ... You have to be pretty creative."

Kenney and his family at his daughter's wedding.Courtesy of Rob Kenney

How to get through a heartbreak

"I've had to walk alongside both my kids with that. Time does tend to heal ... Young love, we've all been through it, where you feel like it's the end of the world ... When you're in high school, it can be a little bit ugly when you're not the popular kid, and you haven't really hit your stride yet ... Just wait it out."

Why you should encourage others

"I used to teach Sunday school, and I would put up on the board the word 'courage.' The word 'courage,' it's like power ... and then if you add to it and you put 'encourage,' you can give that courage away to somebody ... but the other side is 'discourage.' By your words, you can take courage away from somebody, and that's powerful, too."

Kenney with his wife, kids and father. Kenney said he forgave his father, and they had a relationship before he died in 2015.Courtesy of Rob Kenney

How to live with faith in God

"You hear people say, 'Oh, I'm angry at God.' Just tell him ... You can just be honest ... Just pour your heart out to God and ask him to show you. He's not an idol where you have to go through all these rituals to reach him. You cry out to him and he's there."

How to step outside your comfort zone

"If you have a talent or something you've always wanted to do and the thing that's holding you back is, 'What will others think of me?' ... don't let it ... Since I came from a fractured home, I questioned myself a lot ... The fear can really be crippling ... Just go ahead and do it. Don't care what other people think."