Rob Kenney, 58, who lives in Seattle, Washington, is a clear example that what you lived in the past doesn't have to determine how you will live your life and the future you create for yourself and for your loved ones.
Even though his father left him when he was a teenager, Kenney has now turned into a father figure around the world through his social media channel, "Dad, How Do I?"
On his platform, Kenney gives advice such as jump-starting a car or tying a tie, but he doesn't limit his helpful words to different tools or household issues.
He also hosts "Dad chats" focused on topics like integrity, a positive attitude, and creative baking.
What are the details?
"Life can be tough for everybody. I thought I'd try to download some information from my head to help the next generation," Kenney shared with The Epoch Times.
Kenney was born in Louisiana, and he has seven siblings. His family changed where they lived based on his father's work. That's why they moved to Kansas, Louisiana, and eventually settled in Seattle, Washington.
Unfortunately, once they were in Seattle, Kenney realized his family was slowly coming apart.
His mom was affected by loneliness and had drinks to be able to cope and eventually became unable to look after her kids.
In the meantime, his dad got full custody of the kids, but he was no longer someone he could rely on. As the older siblings moved out, he just started to fade into the background. After a while, his dad would only get groceries for the younger kids in the middle of the week and then be gone.
"We were sort of fending for ourselves," Kenney recalls.
And then, one day, his dad came home and said he was "done raising kids." Kenney also revealed he said that the younger kids could just go live with the older ones or go into foster care.
So, Kenney moved in with his 23-year-old brother, Rick, and his wife, Karen.
"I was bitter for a long time; this frustration toward my parents wasn't healthy," Kenney said.
Rick stepped up for his brother and took responsibilities their dad never had. Rick and his wife were a positive influence in his life, even though they were "just kids themselves because they felt it was the right thing to do."
"We're great friends to this day; I've learned a lot of what I know how to do from my brother, Rick. He's very talented and knows how to do so many things," Kenney said.
The most meaningful path that Rick guided Keney on was faith by example. Later on, when Kenney was married and had children, he would turn to prayer in difficult times.
"Then I felt like he answered everything; that scared me. God called my bluff, so to speak," he said.
Saddened by the relationship with his dad, Kenney raised his two kids with affection and care, doing his best to keep communication open at all times.
"We talked about anything; I'm willing to admit that I am not perfect, and that's fine. It's okay not to be perfect, you know?"
He also told his kids what happened to him while he was growing up.
"It's therapeutic for me, you know; it's good to talk about it because it's happened," Kenney said.
As the restrictions set in, Kenney realized many people needed to feel connected to one another. His daughter convinced him to open up his social media channel.
"My daughter kept reminding me to do it, so I ran out of excuses and did it."
"I'm trying to be myself and communicate like I would be talking to my kids," he said about the content he uploads on YouTube.
Initially, he thought he would have 30 or 40 subscribers, but the numbers kept climbing, and now he has almost 4 million subscribers.
His voice helps people who miss their parents or who just want to find out how to do things a dad would know about.
"I'm so grateful that I'm able to help people," Kenney said.
Being an introvert, it hasn't been easy for Kenney to make public appearances. Still, he values the opportunity to discover more about himself and the lives of the people who follow him.
"It's made me grow. You know, I've had to get out of my comfort zone and fly, and it's a little scary, but it's fun, you know?"
For him and his wife, their main goal is to raise good adults. They wish to see their kids independent rather than rely on anyone else.
"We didn't want to raise good kids. We wanted to raise good adults because, ultimately, you see people that are kids in adult bodies, too."
He and his dad were able to come to terms with what happened in his childhood just before he passed away.
"I had already forgiven him, and he finally came around and asked me for forgiveness. But by that time, he was 86."
His advice for anyone with a rough childhood and not much support and affection from their parents is to trust the future and not bring hurt feelings into the bright days ahead.
"You kind of waste your life, right? Years go by, and you're missing out on opportunities because something happened to you in the past. Don't bring the past into your future," he concluded.