Bill Geist and Willie Geist
A household that included CBS Sunday Morning humorist Bill Geist and his son Willie, whose dry wit livens up MSNBC's Morning Joe and NBC's Today, had to be entertaining, right? "It was fun," Willie says. "But we didn't have those big talks you're supposed to have." Apparently, it's never too late. The two do some catching up, swapping tales about growing up in their new book Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees...and Other Conversations We Forgot To Have (Grand Central Publishing). The main message: You don't have to over-share to be a happy, tight-knit family. The Geists offered us some insights into their relationship.
TV Guide Magazine: Why write a book about the stuff you never wanted to discuss?
Willie Geist: My dad has had Parkinson's for about 20 years and for the first 10 years he didn't tell my sister or me about it. After he went public about it on Sunday Morning two years ago, we wondered why that was, why we didn't have that big talk. What was it about us? We hadn't had the talks about [sex] or the dangers of drinking either.
Bill Geist: We've since had it. Last week.
Willie Geist: In most cases talking about sex and drinking to your kids when they are pushing 40 is not terribly instructive but we tried anyway.
Bill Geist: They have to be mature enough to understand what you're talking about.
Willie Geist: This is not a weepy, unfinished-business-talking-to-his-dad-book. My dad worked really hard and traveled a lot. But he was always coaching my teams. He came home after work and he was a great dad. My dad comes from Champaign, Illinois in the 1950s where you don't pour out your heart and hug and have that emotive sharing.
Bill Geist: You'd be locked up.
Willie Geist: It just wasn't his style.
TV Guide Magazine: But you came out OK.
Willie Geist: You can. I think it's better to communicate. I'm not advocating not talking to your kids about sex. I'm just expressing the reality that a lot of fathers and sons find that terribly uncomfortable and would rather fumble around and find out on their own.
TV Guide Magazine: Bill, it sounds like you were a free-range parent. Children are heavily managed today.
Bill Geist: Free range is an apt term. If you've got chickens out walking around the yard, you don't let a dog come in and you don't lose track of where they are. That's what my role was. Let's face it, their mother did most of the parenting, She's probably going to write a book next.
Willie Geist: She took on the discipline. My dad took on the fun.
TV Guide Magazine: You must have learned about each other writing this book. Bill is a huge Rolling Stones fan. Willie, if your father left for a desert island, which Stones album would he pack?
Willie Geist: Exile On Main Street would be a good one to have.
Bill Geist: That's the one I'd take. Definitely.
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