'Virtual dad' gone viral fills a real void

'Virtual dad' gone viral fills a real void

'Virtual dad' gone viral fills a real void

A fitness trainer at a Mississippi airbase is running a TikTok channel where he dispenses fatherly wisdom, attention, and love – and he's got more than three-million followers.

Summer Clayton (pictured above) named his channel "Your Proud Dad," and several times a week he sits down in front of the camera and has dinner – he actually puts a plate of food down where a follower would be if they were actually there – and a virtual conversation with who are presumably young men and women around the world:

Clayton: "How are you? Give me one good thing that happened to you today and then one challenging thing, alright? Start with a good thing … [pause] … yeah … [pause] … okay … [pause] … not bad."

For the teenage boy without a father, for example, there's a lesson on how to shave:

Clayton: "Hey, I'm about to shave if you want to join me, alright? So just make sure that you wash your face off with some warm soap and water and leave it damp. Okay? Alright, so just go ahead and put some shaving cream on the places you want to shave…"

Other of life's "topics" the 26-year-old addresses include checking tire pressure on a vehicle, doing laundry, celebrating Easter, doing homework, and making a doctor's appointment. In addition, Clayton often shares tidbits of biblical wisdom and prays with his followers, ending those videos with the words "I love you."

Wesley Wildmon, vice president of outreach at American Family Association, points out that young people without a dad are desperate for a father's love and attention. Reacting to Clayton's TikTok channel, he says:

Wildmon, Wesley Wildmon

"Oh, it's a wonderful idea – this is meeting a specific need of a young man who does not have a dad," he tells AFN.

For the last few years, Wildmon has headed up a free summertime program at AFA headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi, that does something similar, specifically with young men.

"AFA has launched a program called Men of Honor, in which we disciple young boys throughout the summer – in the scriptures, but also in skills that dads would typically teach their young boys," he describes.

Speaking into the lives of young boys ages 7-17, Men of Honor focuses on turning out godly young men who not only have learned how to change a tire or apply for a job, but also how to be a gentleman.

Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.