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ToddBridges–Different Strokes

I went to fold towels the other day and turned on the TV for while I was doing it.  The Wendy show came on.  I had never heard of her before.  Todd Bridges was being interviewed. 

Many of you probably remember the television show Different Strokes.  Todd Bridges was one of the child stars in that show.  Little Gary Coleman was his little brother. 

I am afraid I only remember the name of the show, and never watched it.  Now I wish I had.  Todd has published a book Killing Willis.  It is about the show biz family he grew up in, the suffering he experienced both at home and from a molester, his journey into and out of the drugs, and where he is now.  It is an easy read.

His dad hired an agent to help Todd’s career really take off.  I believe he was pre-teen age about this time.  The man was a predator and Todd’s descriptions of the manipulation and abuse are very good…of just how these people are damaging our children right before our eyes.  He is an excellent actor, and none of the verbal and physical abuse he was going through with his dad, nor the sexual abuse interfered with his love for and talent for acting.  He was a big hit and became a teenage idol, living the American Dream.

I will start with what I believe is a very significant paragraph from his book:

“So the fact that Ronald was a musician who the reverend knew and respected would have meant a lot to my family.  Church was an important part of our life when I was growing up.  We went to services every Sunday.  My mom taught me to believe in a God who loves each and every one of us, and who watches over us at all times.  Even during my dark years, when I felt about as far away from God as a person can be, some part of me know that He still had an eye on me and was keeping me safe.  I know I would have been lost without my faith, even if I didn’t see the role it was playing in my life during the times I needed it the most.” (Killing Willis, Todd Bridges with Sarah Tomlinson (New York: Touchstone, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc. 2120) 45, 46.  The reverend referred to was James Cleveland, a prominent musician and preacher in Southern California.

He was actually blessed in many ways.  He had several resilient relationships.  His mother time and again demonstrated with decisive action her love.  She believed him about Ronald, and immediately got the ‘agent’ out of his life.  It cost her her marriage.  It was awhile before she found out though.  His brother was and is his best friend.  He is also is very close to his sister.  So, he was not alone and Todd now sees God’s hand in providing for him this way. The four of them are very close to this day.

Now Todd had a great ‘dad hunger.’  Kids are designed by God to want and need a dad.  His biological dad was not a functional father.  He verbally and physically abused him.  He did not believe him about the sexual violence.  He did not spend fun time with him.  Ronald on the other hand was a master at meeting those needs in Todd…..for awhile. 

I will demonstrate just how the above is true next time.

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