Richard Johnson and his daughter Persephone have been on their own since Persephone's mom left the family when Persephone was 1 month old. "We still don't know exactly why," Johnson wrote in the post. "But we suspect post-partum depression played a part."
"I was so nervous and scared about being a father in general, but now I was a single father and had to fulfill two roles. I wasn't sure I could do it," Johnson wrote of the early days being on his own with Persephone. "I then started to watch your page more closely and saw that there were other fathers out there who were in similar predicaments as me."
Johnson added that "the page started to turn into a major confidence booster" and "really helped me through all of this. I always look forward to photo submissions and reading the stories of some of the awesome dads out there in this community. You truly helped my daughter and me through a very difficult time."
The post resonated with quite a few dads out there, as it quickly went viral (it has amassed over 38,000 likes and 2,000 shares as of this writing). The overwhelming response from the online community prompted Johnson to write a follow-up post, where he shared more details of his parenting journey.
In the new note, he makes it clear that he doesn't harbor any negative feelings toward Persephone's mom, indicating that he empathizes with her struggles and hopes she is well.
She "is an amazing woman and I will have to ask the few people who had negative things to say about her to please refrain from doing so," he wrote. She "is the mother of my child and I only wish the absolute best for her. So long as she can be happy then that's all that counts. It's somethings [sic] I wish to instill in my daughter. Post-partum depression is truly a tragic thing and I would not wish that upon my worst enemy."
Talk about a compassionate, understanding human! Someone canonize this dude, amirite?
Johnson's tale is an inspirational reminder that both single moms and single dads can face (and overcome) life's struggles. Single dads in particular have become increasingly common in recent years. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 8% of U.S. households with children were headed by a single father in 2013, as compared to just 1% in 1960.
That huge increase suggests that Johnson's story is just one of many examples of single dads working hard to bring home the bacon and give their children a good life. So here's to all the proud daddios like Johnson out there. Hopefully when their kids are all grown up, they'll remember to pick up the phone every once in a while and say, "Thank you."