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Dad and daughter duo post ‘dad advice’ for young adults on TikTok

<i>Courtesy Bo Petterson/@DadAdviceFromBo</i><br/>Petterson's one-minute
Courtesy Bo Petterson/@DadAdviceFromBo
Petterson's one-minute "dad advice" videos include guidance on how to maintenance a car

By Taylor Nicioli, CNN

In his offline life, Bo Petterson is a dad to his six adult children. But online, he is a father figure to millions.

With the TikTok account @DadAdviceFromBo, one man from Leavenworth, Washington, has shared tips and tricks on navigating adulthood with 2.6 million followers around the world.

Petterson has advice on so many things, including how to change a tire, mow a lawn, patch a hole in drywall, avoid debt and build up credit, and he even offers his perspectives on mental health.

Petterson produces several videos a week, each a maintenance hack or bit of mental health advice that he has gathered from life experiences. But he doesn’t do it alone — his adult daughter, Emily Petterson, is the one behind the camera.

“I think young people feel like we have to do everything ourselves or know everything already. We tend to get overwhelmed by things we haven’t learned,” Emily Petterson said via email. “My Dad does a great job of teaching things concisely but also showing people that whatever is weighing on you is probably an easier solution than you think. You just need someone to light the way.”

Many who follow the account affectionately call Bo Petterson “Dad” in their comments expressing gratitude for his weekly advice.

“Emily, thank you for sharing your dad with us. Bo, thank you for being our dad,” one user commented under a video introducing Emily.

“From someone who lost their dad when she was 5 and a beginning homeowner, I really appreciate your videos! Thank you TikTok Dad,” another posted on a video on spring-cleaning.

Signing off his videos with “Love, Dad,” Petterson’s goal is to help young people feel confident as they find their footing in the world.

“My perspective is that learning to take care of the spaces you occupy, whether it’s your home, car or even your own body, is directly tied to mental well-being,” Petterson said via email. “Too often I find that young people are overwhelmed by adulthood, and I think they just need someone to sit with them and encourage them to take it one thing at a time.”

Dad advice from TikTok’s Dad

One of his top-viewed TikToks is his “one simple rule” for backing up a trailer — keep one hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn in the direction you want the trailer to go.

To keep a lawn in top shape, Petterson suggested mowing in a different direction each time, so the grass doesn’t start to lean one way. One user commented, “My dad died in November, and I’ve been wanting so badly to ask him how to get the lines in my lawn.”

When you’re unsure if it is time to change your tires, Petterson has a nifty trick using a quarter to check the tire thread. “Put the quarter down, and if you can see the top of Washington’s head, you need new tread. Rotating your tires consistently will help the tread wear more evenly,” he said.

In the mental health space, Petterson consistently reminds his viewers not to get caught up in overthinking about tomorrow’s problems. His positive outlook on life began when he was in his 20s and had to spend the night in his truck after getting two flat tires in the middle of a lightning storm.

“If you think of everything as a lesson, life’s toughest moments are a little less difficult,” Petterson said. “Worry is interest paid on problems yet to happen. If there is nothing you can do about tomorrow’s problems, don’t spend a moment thinking about them or you live the problem twice.”

The beginning of the dynamic duo

That attitude helped him a lot when Emily was 18. She had a traumatic brain injury from a soccer game that left her feeling physically and mentally unwell. Her therapist encouraged her to try to do regular things that would distract her from the pain.

“I started taking photos of the quilts my mom makes and posting them to Instagram. My Dad saw that I was up and out of bed, so he built me an entire quilt stand to hang them from to make photographing easier,” Emily Petterson said via email. “That’s when I thought, ‘I should also be sharing how special he is.’ I had no idea it would go anywhere or be helpful to anyone.”

She began recording her dad giving “Dad Advice” to the camera, and those videos were originally meant for her and her siblings. A few days later, she discovered that one of the videos had reached over a million views on TikTok.

Now, the duo continues to record videos inspired by household maintenance that Bo Petterson is already going to do or topics that their followers request. Petterson said he enjoys being able to give back by teaching what he knows how to do.

“I’m just a Dad, not an expert in everything,” Petterson said. “Emily is the reason I started making these videos and the reason I continue to make them. Although I realize now that many others are benefiting from these advice videos, it’s still just Emily and I filming the content and having a few laughs along the way. I will make videos as long as she asks me to.”

Advice to parents of new adults

As well as his videos do, Petterson said he felt as if he should have taught his own six kids how to repair more things around the house when they were growing up. While parents may agree it is easier to handle repairs themselves, he said it is important to teach children to maintain a house or a car to set them up for success in life.

“One day, as they grow and fly the nest, you will realize they still need you just about as much as they did growing up, just in different ways,” he said. “Forgive yourself for the mistakes and try to be a phone call away as they become parents themselves.”

Both Petterson and his daughter continue to express gratitude for those that have shown support for Emily in her journey to recovery. “Every person who has experienced sickness or deep suffering knows what it feels like to lay in a hospital and wish for a miracle, and this has been my miracle. I am living my miracle because of his videos and the community that supports him,” Emily Petterson said.

“A friend said once, ‘If you’re an adult, you’ve already spent the most amount of time with your parents that you ever will,’ and I feel really lucky that I get to spend so much time with him now.”

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