By Del Duduit
A worthy cause can strengthen a relationship.
Just ask Paul and Rana Petersen.
The couple has been married 30 years, which might be a record in Hollywood, California.
I met Paul and Rana at the Roy Rogers Festival in Portsmouth, Ohio a few weeks ago and was intrigued by their story.
Paul was there to sign copies of his books and take pictures with fans who remembered him from his popular role as Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show more than 50 years ago.
The hit show aired for eight seasons and went off the air a few months before I was born in 1966.
The Donna Reed Show became part of American pop culture and in 1997, Paul was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Before he played Jeff Stone, he starred as one of the original Mouseketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club.
In 1962, he released a single record called “My Dad” which hit No. 6 on the Billboard Top 100. He later graduated from college with a degree in literature and wrote 16 adventure novels.
But his life’s calling came in 1990 when his friend and former child star Rusty Hamer, known for his role as Rusty Williams on Make Room for Daddy, committed suicide.
That’s when he and Rana founded “A Minor Consideration” to help bring awareness to the treatment of child actors and help them make the transition to real life once the glamorous lights of Hollywood have been turned off.
Together, the two have fought to help young stars receive payment for their work.
“We’ve had meaningful legislation passed,” Paul told me. “Especially in California and Pennsylvania.”
He told me that when the hit show Jon & Kate Plus 8 was on the air, he noticed a big discrepancy.
“Mom and Dad got paid. The directors got paid, and the producers got paid,” he added. “But not one child on that show was paid. Discovery Communications made $200 million but didn’t give the kids a penny.”
We stayed together because we love each other, and we are committed to make things better for the children in this business.
Now many child stars receive compensation.
Since “A Minor Consideration” was launched, the organization has helped hundreds of kids in the entertainment world.
Paul has never been offered a job since, but he’s okay with being blackballed by elites.
“The Hollywood suits started to respond and take note because they knew we were not kidding because lives were being impacted,” Rana said. “There were reports that Gary Coleman’s parents were taking his money, and Dana Plato was about to be arrested for theft. Todd Bridges has recovered now, but when we first got started, he was in jail on attempted murder charges.” (All starred on the hit comedy Diff’rent Strokes from 1978-1986.)
Together, the couple saw a need and did not hesitate to act.
Because in my life, it was nice to have Mom at home. That’s where the lemonade and cookies were made and that’s how dinner got made.
“We stayed together because we love each other, and we are committed to make things better for the children in this business,” Paul added.
The breakup of the traditional American family is the one big reason Paul and Rana cite for the troubles associated with today’s youth.
“The breakdown of the family is real, and The Donna Reed Show demonstrated and represented the kind of American family that worked – and it flat out worked,” Paul said.
“I kept saying that if Mom goes out and works, who is going to raise the kids?” he said. “Because in my life, it was nice to have Mom at home. That’s where the lemonade and cookies were made and that’s how dinner got made.”
I remember those days.
My Mom, Barbara Ann, was a stay-at-home Mom after a car accident nearly took her life when I was too young to remember.
Dad worked, Mom took care of four boys, and life was simple, at least for me.
But today is a new day, and in most homes, both parents need to work in order to pay the bills. And in many cases, both parents want to work and contribute to society. My wife and I have both worked throughout our married life, and we were blessed that my mother was able to babysit for many years. But we were always there for our kids.
However, we need to focus on what matters. Making money should not take priority over our families. If you’re working more hours on the job than you spend with your family each week, you need to step back and re-evaluate your priorities.
A big house and fancy cars should never come before the time spent with your children. Think twice before you sign up for overtime, and always do your best to be there when your family needs you.
Our society has created a mess that we must deal with. Mothers and fathers give up on each other way too soon and are not willing to put in the hard work to make their marriages successful. Addictions and other pressures in life have blown too many families apart. God must be at front and center in the home.
I’m proud to say that our boys turned out to be fantastic young men. They love and care for their own families. God has indeed blessed us more than we ever deserved.
Now we have two grandchildren (and more soon I hope), and I’m worried about their futures in this cruel and dark world. But I am comforted that my son and daughter-in-law are teaching them about Jesus and raising them to love God.
I promise I’ll be there for them as long as possible and to spoil them nonstop and take them for unlimited ice cream runs. But I won’t be here forever.
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The main target of the devil is the destruction of the family. We can no longer make other “things” a priority. We must focus on the futures of our children.
I am grateful my parents raised me right, and I’ve tried to do the same.
And I am thankful for people like Paul and Rana, who sacrificed to help colleagues and fight for justice.
What will you give up for your kids? Will you sacrifice your career to raise them right? It’s a tough question. Pose it to yourself and make the best decision you can.
The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice; and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
(Proverbs 23: 24 KJV)
For more information on “A Minor Consideration” click here. There is much more to this story.
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Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.