Popular Culture

21-Year-Old Single Father’s Story Touches Thousands Online


12227679_10153642138471427_5974474689436367902_nOne of the best aspects of the internet is the way it allows everyone to tell their stories, big and small. Sometimes, instead of reading mean comments, seeing sarcastic memes (albeit funny ones), and fighting with strangers in comment threads, we can hear about real, human stories and rally together for support.

That’s what happened when a young single father posted his story to a Facebook page called Life of Dad. 21-year-old single father of a 10-month-old daughter credited the page, and other online parenting sites, with helping him get over the panic and guilt of raising a daughter by himself, and the details of his journey touched the hearts of thousands of people on Facebook and elsewhere online. As of time published, the post Richard Johnson wrote has over 28,000 likes, 1,500 comments, and over 1,600 shares.

Here’s what he wrote:

Life of Dad,

My name is Richard Johnson, and I’m a single father to a beautiful little girl named Persephone. Her mother left about a month after she was born. We still don’t know exactly why, but we suspect post-partum depression played a part. In the first few weeks of it being just her and me, I stumbled upon your page by accident. 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.

I had read every “new parent” book I could find and clocked in over 1000 hours in YouTube videos from everything to braiding hair and painting nails to theories on how to deal with common parental issues. 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. 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.

We’re both very happy now and continue to grow together everyday. She’s now 10 months, and I now get asked by my friends for parenting advice constantly. We’ve come a long way, my daughter and me, and we definitely owe part of that to this page and the people within it. So from both of us, we wanted to thank you.

Persephone & Richard Johnson

Johnson included a sweet photo of himself and his young daughter, and their story has quickly become viral. When the post started gaining a lot of attention, outlets like Yahoo Parenting reached out to the father, who provided them with even more details about his life.

Richard Johnson said that for most of his life, he didn’t want kids.

“I came from a family where everyone is either divorced or a single parent. My father wasn’t in the picture, and I never wanted that for my kids, so I was dead set on not having any.”

However, his mind changed when he met the mother of his daughter. “We decided that we wanted kids, and I wanted to give them the life I didn’t have,” he said.

Johnson also stated that finding out his girlfriend was pregnant was the scariest day of his life. “The more I thought about it, the more panicked I got. I didn’t know what it meant to be an involved father except from what I saw on TV or movies.”

And that was when the mother was still in the picture.

Johnson then revealed that initially, Persephone’s mother left with her daughter, before changing her mind.

“She took my little girl to California, but then called a week later and said if I didn’t come get Persephone, she was going to put her up for adoption.” So he went and got her, and the rest is history.


In a follow-up post, Richard gave further details about the moment he decided that his role as a father was going to be the most important one in his life. He wrote:

The days have been rough and at times I wasn’t sure I could make it another day. I spent more then a few nights holding my little girl as she slept weeping because I wasn’t sure I was going to be a good enough father for her. One night in particular was the night she first crawled. She came to me and laid her tiny little hand on my cheek and stared into my eyes. I took it as “Come on Daddy, we have a lot to do.” So I told her no more crying for either of us and we were going to fight to be happy. We’ve kept true to that promise. A few days later I found Life of Dad.

In the rest of the post, Richard defended his ex-girlfriend and asks commenters to stop insulting her, citing post-partum depression as something he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy.

It’s truly an inspiration to hear such a simple, human story filled with love gaining such attention online. All the best to Richard and Persephone.

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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