SGT. PEPPER IN THE HOUSE

SGT. PEPPER IN THE HOUSE
Recently, after a long work day, I came through the kitchen door and these lyrics boomed through my house:
It was twenty years ago today
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile.
This greeting certainly raised a smile on my face. My 14-year-old son, Tennyson, had ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ playing. He returned my nod of approval with a grin. Before I put down my bag and plugged in my cell phone, the track had changed to ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ and I was humming: Do you need anybody? I need somebody to love.
What a pleasant contrast to so much of the music being pushed on teenagers today, obnoxious noise wrapped in lyrics laden with sex, violence and profanity. I bristle at the prospect of my kids listening to this stuff, never mind paying for it.
But getting your teenager to avoid following the herd when it comes to music trends requires a carrot, not a stick. That’s why I gave my son a two-disc set of Beatles classics for Christmas. I hoped he’d develop a taste for some of the bands that shaped my upbringing. I’ve also given him my old records by Springsteen, the Police, Paul McCartney, and U2.
Guess what? I never have to tell my son to turn off rappers hyping lawlessness, infidelity and bling. My son is into Lennon, McCartney, Bono, Sting and The Boss. I say, Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up.
Music taste can easily disconnect a parent from a teenager. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Last summer, when Tennyson turned 14, I took him to see his favorite musician John Mayer. Tennyson’s best friend Zack Fish and his father came along. Us dads sat there reminiscing about our teenage days while our teenage sons took in their first live show. At one point I leaned over and said, “You know you’ve got the coolest dads in the arena, right?” They laughed. Truth is we were probably the only dads in the arena.
Here’s the point. Teen years are a time of exploration. Rather than send my son out into the woods alone, I prefer to go along on occasion.
My motivation is simple. I want him to trust me enough to talk to me when he gets tangled up in something that can lead to long-term problems if left unaddressed. Internet porn comes to mind. When I was a boy it took great effort to see porn. Today it takes great effort to avoid it. It’s no longer a question of if your kid will see it; it’s a matter of when and where.
Some guys pooh-pooh the seriousness of porn in the hands of a teenager. Not me. I see pornography as one of the biggest threats to my boys’ long-term well being. Its addictive pull is far greater than cigarettes, alcohol or gambling. The danger also takes longer to recognize. When a teen drinks and drives, the tragedy can be pretty immediate. But introduce a youth to distorted images of women and the tragedy might not manifest itself until his wife is wondering why he hasn’t embraced her in months. Then come the tears.
The bottom line is that teenage years are a minefield, a time when they easily stray from us. So I make a point to take each of my children on a couple business trips per year. Tennyson is a more frequent companion because he has fewer years left at home.
This past year I took him along when I had meetings in New York with a group of editors, reporters and writers from CBS News and Sports Illustrated. At one point I looked around the room and it dawned on me that my son was observing some of the top people in my profession. Terry McDonell, the editor of Sports Illustrated, led the meeting. He took the time to pull Tennyson aside and speak with him one-on-one. These brief words of encouragement from a luminary figure in the magazine world gave my son a sense of confidence and encouragement. It’s the kind of thing that inspires an impressionable young man to greatness.
Afterward, we went out to lunch with my editor, strolled through Central Park, and bought huge pieces of chocolate cake at a midtown bakery. Then we talked non-stop on the six-hour drive home.
A month later, I had to deliver a series of speeches at the Brigham Young University campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Tennyson and I flew out a day early so we could spend a night at Yellowstone. We got close enough to touch the bison. We spent hours photographing wildlife. But the highlight was getting up before dawn and hiking to the top of a cliff that overlooks Old Faithful. Alone, we looked down on one of the most breathtaking landscapes in America. That’s a moment when no words are necessary, only quiet reflection.
Before going to sleep in our cabin we watched ‘Catch Me If You Can’, one of our favorite movies to watch together. In a nod to my son, I decided to show a clip of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks at the outset of my speeches the following day at Brigham Young. The students thoroughly enjoyed it. But the real fun for me was letting my son help me select and edit which clips to show the college students.
Yes, my son misses a few school days when he travels with me. But I think he’s getting the kind of education that helps him navigate the minefields of adolescence.
I’m at the end of my blog post and Lennon and McCartney are singing ‘The Long and Winding Road’: Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried …anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried.
Pretty sad words, especially if coming from a boy who can’t talk to his dad about a problem.

Recently, after a long work day, I came through the kitchen door and these lyrics boomed through my house:

Pepper-B_resized

It was twenty years ago today
Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile.

 

This greeting certainly raised a smile on my face. My 14-year-old son, Tennyson, had ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ playing. He returned my nod of approval with a grin. Before I put down my bag and plugged in my cell phone, the track had changed to ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ and I was humming: Do you need anybody? I need somebody to love.

What a pleasant contrast to so much of the music being pushed on teenagers today, obnoxious noise wrapped in lyrics laden with sex, violence and profanity. I bristle at the prospect of my kids listening to this stuff, never mind paying for it.
But getting your teenager to avoid following the herd when it comes to music trends requires a carrot, not a stick. That’s why I gave my son a two-disc set of Beatles classics for Christmas. I hoped he’d develop a taste for some of the bands that shaped my upbringing. I’ve also given him my old records by Springsteen, the Police, Paul McCartney, and U2.

Guess what? I never have to tell my son to turn off rappers hyping lawlessness, infidelity and bling. My son is into Lennon, McCartney, Bono, Sting and The Boss. I say, Turn it up, turn it up, turn it up.

Music taste can easily disconnect a parent from a teenager. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Last summer, when Tennyson turned 14, I took him to see his favorite musician John Mayer. Tennyson’s best friend Zack Fish and his father came along. Us dads sat there reminiscing about our teenage days while our teenage sons took in their first live show. At one point I leaned over and said, “You know you’ve got the coolest dads in the arena, right?” They laughed. Truth is we were probably the only dads in the arena.

JohnMayerTicket_resized

Here’s the point. Teen years are a time of exploration. Rather than send my son out into the woods alone, I prefer to go along on occasion.

My motivation is simple. I want him to trust me enough to talk to me when he gets tangled up in something that can lead to long-term problems if left unaddressed. Internet porn comes to mind. When I was a boy it took great effort to see porn. Today it takes great effort to avoid it. It’s no longer a question of if your kid will see it; it’s a matter of when and where.

Some guys pooh-pooh the seriousness of porn in the hands of a teenager. Not me. I see pornography as one of the biggest threats to my boys’ long-term well being. Its addictive pull is far greater than cigarettes, alcohol or gambling. The danger also takes longer to recognize. When a teen drinks and drives, the tragedy can be pretty immediate. But introduce a youth to distorted images of women and the tragedy might not manifest itself until his wife is wondering why he hasn’t embraced her in months. Then come the tears.

The bottom line is that teenage years are a minefield, a time when they easily stray from us. So I make a point to take each of my children on a couple business trips per year. Tennyson is a more frequent companion because he has fewer years left at home.

This past year I took him along when I had meetings in New York with a group of editors, reporters and writers from CBS News and Sports Illustrated. At one point I looked around the room and it dawned on me that my son was observing some of the top people in my profession. Terry McDonell, the editor of Sports Illustrated, led the meeting. He took the time to pull Tennyson aside and speak with him one-on-one. These brief words of encouragement from a luminary figure in the magazine world gave my son a sense of confidence and encouragement. It’s the kind of thing that inspires an impressionable young man to greatness.

Afterward, we went out to lunch with my editor, strolled through Central Park, and bought huge pieces of chocolate cake at a midtown bakery. Then we talked non-stop on the six-hour drive home.

A month later, I had to deliver a series of speeches at the Brigham Young University campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Tennyson and I flew out a day early so we could spend a night at Yellowstone. We got close enough to touch the bison. We spent hours photographing wildlife. But the highlight was getting up before dawn and hiking to the top of a cliff that overlooks Old Faithful. Alone, we looked down on one of the most breathtaking landscapes in America. That’s a moment when no words are necessary, only quiet reflection.

002CMY_Leonardo_DiCaprio_115_resized

Before going to sleep in our cabin we watched ‘Catch Me If You Can’, one of our favorite movies to watch together. In a nod to my son, I decided to show a clip of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks at the outset of my speeches the following day at Brigham Young. The students thoroughly enjoyed it. But the real fun for me was letting my son help me select and edit which clips to show the college students.

Yes, my son misses a few school days when he travels with me. But I think he’s getting the kind of education that helps him navigate the minefields of adolescence.

I’m at the end of my blog post and Lennon and McCartney are singing ‘The Long and Winding Road’: Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried …anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried.

Pretty sad words, especially if coming from a boy who can’t talk to his dad about a problem.

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Jeff Benedict is the bestselling author of sixteen non-fiction books, as well as a television and film producer. His latest book, The Dynasty, is the definitive inside story of the New England Patriots under Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, each of whom cooperated for the book. Published in 2020, it was an instant New York Times bestseller. The book is being developed into a 10-part documentary series, which Jeff is executive producing. In 2018, Jeff co-wrote the #1 bestseller Tiger Woods and he was an executive producer on the HBO documentary “Tiger” that was based on the book and aired in 2021. The book is currently being developed into a scripted series, which Jeff is executive producing. Jeff is also the executive producer on a documentary based on his book Poisoned that will air on Netflix. In 2017, he co-produced “Little Pink House,” a feature film starring Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn that was based on Jeff’s book of the same title. And in 2016, Jeff co-wrote with Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young his bestselling autobiography QB, which was the basis of an NFL Films documentary. Jeff has been a special-features writer for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, and the Hartford Courant, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times. His stories have been the basis of segments on 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, HBO Real Sports, Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, 20/20, 48 Hours, NFL Network, and NPR.

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