HomeTop StoriesFather's Day: Summer season Clayton is a 'proud dad' to three million...

Father’s Day: Summer season Clayton is a ‘proud dad’ to three million folks on TikTok Gadgetfee

He pauses, permitting time for a response.

“OK … I see you. That is actually cool …. I might undoubtedly have fun that! OK, what’s one problem that you simply needed to overcome as we speak?” he asks.

One other pause.

“Nicely, I am sorry you needed to undergo that,” he continues. “However I hope that you simply maintain speaking to folks about how you are feeling. I really like you, I do. Let’s eat!”

Clayton, a civilian health coach at Columbus Air Drive Base in northeastern Mississippi, is just not a therapist or a life coach. He is additionally solely 26 and has no youngsters.

To some, his one-way conversations could seem foolish. However his compassion and charisma come by within the TikTok movies, which have struck a chord amongst individuals who want a father determine — or simply somebody who seems to hearken to their troubles.

“There’s loads of nice recollections that I pull from in my childhood, however there’s additionally these deficits that I do not need different folks to expertise, whether or not it is the sensation of sitting alone within the schoolyard once I was youthful or simply not having that relationship with my dad that I wished,” Clayton says about his method to the movies.

“It permits me to follow what it means to be nonjudgmental and to be sort.”

He received the ‘dad’ thought from one among his early followers

Clayton is a well being buff who has a bachelor’s diploma in company health and a grasp’s in kinesiology. When he isn’t working on the base or making his movies, he loves lifting weights, taking pictures and cooking.

He began posting on TikTok in late 2020 with inspirational and how-to movies, prompting followers to jokingly name him “dad.” His first video to go viral was a shaving how-to — a response to a follower who despatched him a message asking, ‘hey Dad, are you able to train me the right way to shave?”

The video blew up, incomes him tens of 1000’s of latest followers inside hours.

Now he goes by “yourprouddad” on TikTok and on Instagram, the place he has an extra 68,000 followers.

“I really may have been known as ‘your proud brother’ or ‘your uncle’ or something like that. I believe ‘your proud dad’ caught as a result of one of many individuals who comply with me commented on one among my posts and stated, ‘hey, dad,'” he says. “And I stated, ‘Nicely, I assume I am form of taking over this function.’

From there, his movies have morphed into varied recurring sequence, together with his standard “Dinner With Dad,” wherein Clayton units down two plates of meals — one for him and one for his digital “child.” With a giant smile, he provides a fast breakdown of what is on the dinner plate. Generally, he blesses the meals. Different occasions, he digs proper in. Virtually all the time, he asks, “How was your day?”

Clayton is a part of a rising cadre of on-line surrogate dads, together with Rob Kenney of the “Dad, How Do I?” YouTube sequence and Bo Petterson’s DadAdviceFromBo on TikTok, who present fatherly recommendation, how-to directions, ethical assist and pa jokes.
In a single latest video, Clayton addressed the college taking pictures in Uvalde, Texas. His trademark grin was lacking. There was no dinner plate, both.

“Hey, you recognize, as we speak is kinda a tragic day for lots of people. Lots of people are waking up with out a member of the family there,” he stated. “It is OK to really feel unhappy … I simply wished to say that. I really like you all, OK? I hope you have got an OK day as we speak.”

Whereas Clayton is engaged on constructing a greater relationship along with his personal father, it wasn’t all the time that method, he says. He tries to indicate his followers unconditional love and ask them questions he needs somebody had requested him when he was youthful.

“If you have a look at my content material, possibly you may assume again to the way you had been handled and you may say, ‘I would like higher for my kids, or for myself,'” he says. “And possibly that little little bit of empathy or reflection could assist you to be a greater particular person for another person.

Followers say his movies tackle an actual want on the planet

Clayton’s prolonged household is available in all ages. Lots of his “youngsters” are sufficiently old to be his mother or father — one thing he says would not hassle him.

“Recommendation is recommendation, whether or not you are getting it from an older particular person or a youthful particular person,” Clayton says. “There’s some youthful individuals who I utterly admire. I am like, ‘Man, you’re smart past your years. I’ll gladly take a few of your recommendation.'”

Clayton’s youth would not appear to hassle a lot of his followers, both.

At 58, Sarah D’Imperio could not appear to be Clayton’s audience. However the New York Metropolis girl believes that speaks to the breadth of his movies’ attraction.

“It is a sensible thought … particularly for younger males or ladies of shade who could not have a paternal function mannequin that listens or has time to hear,” she says. “It is simply heartwarming to see somebody making an attempt to fill a small a part of that function for anybody.”

In this video, Clayton sends congrats to recent graduates.

Jess Brunelle of Portland, Oregon, says Clayton’s posts resonate as a result of they tackle an actual want on the planet.

“I’m a psychological well being therapist myself and I focus on multigenerational trauma. … There’s a lot trauma on the planet and there are such a lot of individuals who do not have a household system and even one grownup that has their again,” says Brunelle, 47.

“I do know so many adults who’re nonetheless making an attempt to determine the right way to navigate a wholesome grownup relationship with out figuring out what that even seems like.”

Additionally, she says, “This world feels so detrimental and divided and ugly loads of occasions … His content material is so easy and candy and constructive.”

Andrea Harvey of Chicago echoes an identical sentiment. She says she’s not very near her father, which makes the digital conversations with Clayton extra significant.

Clayton saw his following explode after he posted a video on how to shave.

“I really like his content material as a result of it forces you to pause and reply these questions for your self,” says Harvey, 40. “I genuinely reply his questions, and smile at his responses.”

Bogar Lopez, 33, of Fullerton, California, got here throughout Clayton’s account two months in the past. Now he will get notifications to ensure he would not miss any future posts. Lopez has a 16-year-old daughter, and he is began asking her the identical questions that Clayton asks.

“His movies virtually all the time convey me to tears,” Lopez says. “And it isn’t as a result of I’ve a foul relationship with my dad. I simply can genuinely see that he’s a tremendous particular person. Each time he posts a video and he is speaking to us, having a one on one, asking questions and listening to us, I really feel like he is proper in entrance of me, caring about me.”

He struggles with how a lot he can do to assist folks

As his following has grown, Clayton says he struggles with wanting to assist folks as a lot as he can.

On a latest day, he stated his inbox had about 3,000 direct messages from followers telling him about their lives and asking for recommendation — fatherly and in any other case — on a spread of points, from hygiene to the right way to deal with a romantic breakup.

Most of the messages come from younger individuals who do not have a supportive parental determine of their lives, he says.

Clayton says he tries to reply to as many messages as he can. However he says he additionally needed to be taught to not tackle an excessive amount of.

"I can never replace someone's actual biological father," Clayton says. "But maybe throughout my content, I can create just a little snapshot (of a father figure)."

“It was laborious to let go of this thought that I needed to be there for everybody,” he says. “As these messages are coming in, there’s not sufficient time within the day to get to them. And that tore me up at first, as a result of generally I might get … these heavy messages and I might be like, ‘Man, what if I miss somebody or one thing?’

“It took some conversations with people who find themselves therapists and shut associates for me to understand that to start with, I’m blessed to have this. However nevertheless a lot I want I may … I can not be there for each particular person. I can barely be there for myself generally.”

Clayton, who needs to have a baby of his personal in the future, additionally acknowledges that the tasks of a digital father determine do not come near these of an actual dad.

“I can by no means substitute somebody’s precise organic father or fill that void, however possibly all through my content material, I can create just a bit snapshot (of a father determine) and permit them to have a little bit little bit of a selection,” he says.

And provides his digital youngsters some emotional assist. And life abilities. And a digital meal.

And what does he do with the additional plate of meals? As quickly because the video’s over, on most days he chows it down.

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