OPINION: Parental Emotional Fulfillment on the Internet is Needed

Photo by Hannah Nelson from Pexels.

May and June marked the celebration of two national holidays that aim to recognize those in our lives who serve as mother and father figures. Mother’s Day celebrated in May, and Father’s Day celebrated in June, offers a day of recognition and remembrance for those that fill these pivotal developmental roles in our lives. Yet, these holidays also serve as a day of reflection as these roles frequently go unfilled. 

Parent-child relationship dynamics are ever changing, but are consistent in their areas of lack. From Freud to sitcom characters, the prevalence of parental faults that set us back is seen in everything we become. It has become a social norm and an area of discussion in every part of our development as individuals and a collective. 

While traditional two-parent household upbringings are depleting, the internet has served as a platform for members of our community to fill gaps our society holds. Parental roles can now be found through the internet. While it is not a new practice for us to find emotional fulfillment from the media, content creators on social media offer a new type of fulfillment and importance. Their unscripted content interacts directly with viewers as they comment about their personal experiences of parental and developmental lack. By responding to these viewers with videos tailored to their needs, there is a prevalent and growing new type of emotional commitment to viewers. The impact is much stronger on the emotional well-being of us all, than the emotional wholeness provided through scripted characters in television shows. Their fulfillment is custom to their audience, but general enough to fill a traditional and foundational role that we lack.  

For instance, Rob Kenney, who lives in Kent (Washington), runs a YouTube channel titled, “Dad, How Do I?”  Kenney offers instructional videos from the perspective of a father to their child.  He is the first person I can recall that helped fill a gap for my community of friends and family who lacked a father figure’s traditional guidance. Kenny’s content ranges from guidance on baking and cooking, to home and hygiene maintenance.  

Similarly, Summer Clayton, who runs a TikTok page (@yourproudad), provides videos centered around conversations and interactions that provide the traditional emotional fulfillment that a father-child relationship would bring.  

Ophelia Nichols runs a TikTok page (@shoelover99) where she offers a range of videos that provide a motherly emotional support system.  

It would be remiss to not discuss and appreciate the significant role that people like Kenney, Clayton and Nichols have served for society as a whole in healing our gap in parental emotional fulfillment. Social media has provided a platform of healing for members of our communities who are offering a source of comfort. Appropriately, the comment sections on each of these videos are often abundant with appreciation for these content creators.   

We need more people like these creators. Their perseverance and ability to alchemize situations of lack is a blessing. I hope that they continue to post and that our society’s need for this source of emotional fulfillment depletes.