Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson is not only a professional on the field, he's also got pro fatherhood down, too.
The father of five, who's also an ESPN and NFL Network commentator, has written the book on the subject, "The New Dad's Playbook," available May 2.
Tackling topics such as supporting your partner and misconceptions about sex during pregnancy, the Super Bowl winner gets real with dads in sports-friendly language that might make the process a little more accessible for newbie fathers. There's the "pre-season," aka preparing for fatherhood, as well as the "post-season," which is after Baby comes home.
"Most of us men really want to be great dads, but it's a challenging adventure," Watson tells Mom.me via email. "I'd like every dad to know that they can be a great dad."
Watson talks to us about his new book, what he appreciates about his wife, Kirsten, and the phrase he never wants to hear again. (Hint: You can definitely hear his coaching in that last one.)
Congrats on your new book! What would you like every new dad to know?
Thank you! I'm really excited about this opportunity to encourage rookie and veteran dads alike. They have what it takes—even if it was never demonstrated to them or if they've been less than great in the past. Our children and their mothers need us. Pregnancy and birth can be uncertain times, but "The New Dads Playbook" will be a resource to educate, encourage and empower men to be the fathers their children need and the supportive partner their mothers deserve.
As a father of five, how do you balance parenting duties with your wife?
My wife homeschools our oldest two and is with the kids more than I am, especially during certain times of the year. We are big on having a routine. If I'm only home in the evenings, I have a more prominent role at bath time and bedtime. In the morning, I help prepare breakfast, etc. The key with finding balance is being flexible as the seasons change. I also must be fully present and engaged when I am with my family, whether it is for a few hours or the entire day. It's important for kids to know we are unified, of one accord, even if only one of us is at home at any given time.
What's the best advice you've gotten as a dad?
I've heard my father say that a man is to be the priest, prophet, provider and protector for his family. In essence, he is to lead spiritually, speak words of encouragement and affirmation, supply food, clothing and shelter, and be the emotional mental and physical hedge of protection for his family. Quite a tall order to shoot for, but it gives me a goal!!!
What quality makes for a good dad?
Integrity. A good dad can be trusted to do what is in the best interest of his family. His children trust his character because they see him as authentic. Their mother trusts that he loves her not because he says he does but because his actions prove it. He is honest when he falls short and is humble enough to ask for his family to forgive him.
What is your favorite quality in a mom?
Strength. Their physical strength to bring children into the world and raise them. Their emotional strength to be totally depleted at times yet continue to put their family’s needs first. Their spiritual strength to have wisdom to know what to say and do in the sometimes chaotic times of parenting. And to look beautiful while doing all of this. Truly amazing.
What did you think you'd be when you grew up?
My mom says that I always wanted to be a football player and a missionary. I wanted to be an astronaut, too!
What trait do you hope your kids inherit from you?
I hope they inherit and learn the importance of discipline in their professional and personal lives—and the need for perseverance during times when they don't feel like being disciplined!
What do you appreciate most in your friends?
I appreciate them being committed fathers and husbands. Seeing that challenges me to do the same.
If you could switch lives with anyone, who would you switch with?
What's the one quality you want to have as a parent?
What is your favorite children's book?
"Tikki Tikki Tembo," "The Little Engine That Could," "Gus Was a Friendly Ghost"
What talent do you wish you had?
Vocals. I wish I could sing as well as play an instrument.
What is your greatest wish for your children?
That they grow up to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength, and that they serve people.
Who are your heroes in real life?
As a husband, father, athlete and man, my hero has always been my father.
What word or phrase do you never want to hear again?
"I can't ..."
What is your favorite motto?
Speaking to myself: "Benjamin, it's not about you."