Roger Marsh: A great deal of help and resources for first-time parents focus on moms' struggles. Unfortunately, this leaves a lot of new fathers feeling abandoned in their new role, and really lacking proper guidance. Well, today here on Family Talk, we're going to continue encouraging those dads through the remainder of Dr. Dobson's timeless interview with Benjamin Watson.
Benjamin Watson, a 15-year veteran of the NFL, who won a Super Bowl title back in 2005. On yesterday's broadcast, he and Dr. Dobson talked about Benjamin Watson's book, The New Dad's Playbook, which encourages first-time fathers.
We thought this was a great time to revisit this uplifting interview, so here now is the conclusion of Dr. Dobson's conversation with Benjamin Watson, today, here on Family Talk.
Dr. Dobson: Let's talk about your relationship with your wife. You know more about how to support her now than you did when you started.
Benjamin Watson: Yes, yes.
Dr. Dobson: And you're passing that information along to other dads, both in and outside of the NFL. What's at the top of the list? What do you tell them?
Benjamin Watson: Well, I talk about it in The New Dad's Playbook, but listening is at the top of the list. What I mean by that is men are wired to be fixers. We want to do something. We want to fix stuff. When something's broke, we want to have the solution. When she has morning sickness or cramps, we want to have the solution. Sometimes it's about being quiet, listening to her, and holding her, just being present.
I can remember a time when we went on a vacation and she was in her first trimester. We were about to go to the beach, and she wasn't looking too good. I look in the bathroom, she's literally over the toilet, as many women have been before, and she's throwing up. I didn't know what to do and I was frustrated. I came behind her and just sat there and held her. I just did it because I didn't know what to do.
Well, a decade later, I hear her telling somebody that was the sweetest thing that I did. It wasn't me trying to fix everything-
Dr. Dobson: No answers.
Benjamin Watson: Exactly.
Dr. Dobson: You don't have to give answers.
Benjamin Watson: Exactly. And understand that you're not going to do everything perfectly either. You're going to have a plan and it might get messed up. Your wife may be different than your mother. Like I said before, you may have never seen how a father's supposed to treat a woman, but that doesn't mean you can't do it as well.
So learning along the way, being willing to get out of your comfort zone, being willing to do things that maybe you didn't see demonstrated to you, but that your wife needs specifically. Knowing her love languages, as the book goes. Understanding what she needs to feel wanted and to feel secure. That's what you need to be dedicated to. You need to be a student of your wife.
I remember my wife telling me, and this one hurt, "I wish you fought for me as much as you fought to do well on that football field."
Dr. Dobson: Wow.
Benjamin Watson: Yeah, that hurts.
Dr. Dobson: That'll get ya.
Benjamin Watson: Exactly. But that's it. We need to be students of our wives and be willing to do what it takes.
Dr. Dobson: Yeah. You're gone a lot, aren't you? Every other week, you're someplace else.
Benjamin Watson: During the season, yeah. The great thing about football though is that it's probably the most normal pro sport. We have 16 games, 20, if you count the preseason, and we have eight away games. So for an away game, we're literally gone. We leave the day before and we come back immediately after the game.
During the season, for the most part, other than training camp, we're gone for a long time. You're gone for six weeks. You don't see your family very much. But during the season, it's pretty much like a seven o'clock to five o'clock in the afternoon job. So it's pretty regular. But there are times like during the off-season where things can add up.
Dr. Dobson: But faith is at the top of the list, even if you're a big time football player.
Benjamin Watson: Well, because that's who you are. In my opinion, it doesn't matter what your line of work is, you are a Christian... If you are a believer, you're a Christian broadcaster, you're a Christian athlete, you're a Christian lawyer, or a Christian insurance. You're a Christian dad. You're a Christian sailor or a Christian service member in our military, whatever it may be. That's your new identity. So that naturally comes first, because that's who you are. Your worldview flows out of your new identity.
So as a father, I look to parent my kids scripturally. I look to impress upon them the word of the Lord. I look to train them up in the way that they should go. I look to provoke them not to wrath. I look to teach them obviously to honor their father and mother, because that helps us. I teach them all those things the scripture tells us to teach our children. Also, one way that I teach them is by loving my wife. Because what kids really get the most security out of is when they see the relationship between their father and mother.
I tell guys all the time... I'm going to be a great dad to my kid. Yeah, my kids live on this side of the country, I'm over here. No, I don't really deal with the kids' mom, but I want to be with the kid. Now look, there are situations that happen. I understand that. But the number one way that you can show that kid you care about them is how you treat that kid's mom. They will glean more from that than you being over here and you showing up and giving them some things and taking them out to Chuck E. Cheese.
Dr. Dobson: How is your discipline of the children different than your wife?
Benjamin Watson: It's not as different as you may think. One-
Dr. Dobson: You've got a strong wife though.
Benjamin Watson: Yes, I do. I do. Again, everybody's different. I recently wrote something about the fact that we want to be of one accord when it comes to discipline. One thing that kids do, and I did it when I was a kid, is try to play one parent against each other. We know mom's soft or dad's not soft or whatever it may be. We go to her for this, go to him for that. If you guys aren't together, then not only do you look bad, but the kid learns how to be manipulative. And so-
Dr. Dobson: He sure does. In about five minutes.
Benjamin Watson: I mean, less than that. It's in them already. They come out the womb knowing how to manipulate each other. My daughter's one years old and she knows if she comes to ask daddy for something, I'm soft when it comes to my baby girl, so I'm going to do stuff that my wife's not going to do. But you have to be of one accord when it comes to discipline.
I mean, my kids are only eight. It's going to get tougher as they get older. I understand that. But we're laying the foundation now that if mommy says no about something, don't come ask daddy. Now, when they transgress, we discipline pretty much the same way. We spank, we take things away, we put them in a corner, we talk to them, whatever it may be.
Dr. Dobson: You're the boss.
Benjamin Watson: Matter of fact, and I'll admit this to you guys because y'all are family, a couple of years ago, my daughter, she was about to get a spanking. My daughter's like, "I want daddy to spank me, because mommy does it too hard." So I was like, "I need to get my spanking game up. I must not be doing this thing right-
Dr. Dobson: Your spank-
Benjamin Watson: ... I must be being too soft," when she said that. My point is that we try to be of one accord and be on the same page when it comes to how we discipline the children and be consistent.
But the one thing that we want to make sure that we do is if we're angry, which happens when a kid is totally disobedient, is to let our anger subside before we discipline. Explaining to them why they're getting a spanking or whatever the discipline may be. And afterwards, there has to be reconciliation. So afterwards, while the tears are going, we dry them up, we wait, we hug. "I still love you. I'm not mad at you anymore for that. That is gone. That's been taken care of. Like how God disciplines us and how he doesn't hold a grudge against us, that has been taken care of right here. You are forgiven. The relationship has been restored, and let's move on."
Dr. Dobson: This is good stuff. Ben, are you available to speak? Do you go to fathers' events and other things?
Benjamin Watson: Yes, I do. I do. I do some speaking. I'm a professional extrovert. I hate speaking in front of people, but I guess God has jokes, because he gives me opportunities to do so. But I've done some speaking around the country in different venues, whether it be churches or some corporate organization, some things having to do with fatherhood, like the book. Even some things on race and social justice and social issues.
Dr. Dobson: Ben, I know that last year, you tore your Achilles tendon. That's a very serious injury. Tell us what happened and how you're doing.
Benjamin Watson: In the preseason of all things. We were playing the Detroit Lions. I line up to run a pass. I sprinted off the line and I felt like someone kicked me in the heel. So I fell down and then I got back up, because I was going to get the ball. I was open. Doctor, I was open. I was going to get the ball. So I tried to get up and keep running, but my foot was kind of flapping in the wind, because-
Dr. Dobson: That's a terrible, terrible injury.
Benjamin Watson: ... it wasn't connected to anything, it wasn't connected to my muscle anymore. So I ended up going back down and I pretty much knew what it was. After being in the league for this long, I could probably diagnose every... My next book is going to be about every single injury that I've had. Because I can diagnose any injury. I'll be watching the game and I'll be like, "That guy tore his meniscus. Sure did. That guy, I know what it is," because I've done it or I've seen it, I've seen it happen.
Dr. Dobson: Yeah. You still love football?
Benjamin Watson: I do. I've loved football since I was a little kid. I remember growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, we used to play football in the street and then we would tackle on the sidelines on the curb, because there was grass there. Sometimes we'd tackle in the street. That's another story. But I just remember loving to play the game. Whenever I could throw the football, I... My dad would come outside and throw the football with me sometimes. Those are times that I cherish even to this day. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough for me to really, really remember. I remember going with my father to high school football games, and to college football games, to some pro games when he would do the chapel for the team before the game.
My favorite player was Jerry Rice. I wanted to be like Jerry Rice. I grew a little bigger than a wide receiver, so I ended up... The consolation prize, I played tight end.
But football is something that I've always loved. Now, I don't always love everything that has to do with it. I don't love the injuries. I don't love training camp. I don't love a lot of stuff about football. But game day is always fun. There's something to getting together with a group of men and vying for a specific goal and working together.
Dr. Dobson: What'd your dad do?
Benjamin Watson: He's a pastor now in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He has been involved with ministry pretty much my whole life, as well as criminal justice early in my life. He was involved with the criminal justice system a little bit, but he's always been involved with ministry. He's been preaching, I think... I think my dad told me he's been preaching since he was like 16 or 17, something like that.
Dr. Dobson: I'd sure like to meet him.
Benjamin Watson: Yeah. Yeah, he's-
Dr. Dobson: Will you bring him next time?
Benjamin Watson: I'd love to. I definitely would love to.
Dr. Dobson: He sounds like my kind of guy.
Benjamin Watson: He is. He definitely is.
Dr. Dobson: He got it. He understood, didn't he?
Benjamin Watson: Definitely, definitely. He became a believer at age 16. He actually was watching Billy Graham on TV, became a believer at 16 years old after struggling a lot with what was going on in the '60s. The turmoil that was going on. He became a believer, like I said, and he started a FCA at University of Maryland as well. He met my mom at Maryland, a believer as well. She's from Washington, DC, and my dad's from Norfolk, Virginia. They got married in what? '78, I believe.
Dr. Dobson: Any of your siblings played football?
Benjamin Watson: I had a brother that played at NC State. He was a free agent to New England as well as Dallas, but didn't make either squad. He ended up not doing football. Ended up doing NASCAR for a year. He was working in the pit crew for a year for Roush Fenway Racing for a year.
Yeah, I'm going to tell you something about NASCAR. Black folks don't really watch NASCAR. Y'all can laugh. It's okay. So for the first time-
Dr. Dobson: No, tell me why.
Benjamin Watson: I don't know, but we don't really watch NASCAR. Maybe because there's not many black drivers. I don't know. Whatever it is, black folks don't watch a lot of NASCAR. But for the first time in the Watson household, we were all watching NASCAR. The craziest thing. We would watch because he was in the pit crew, and we'd see him rarely. They don't really show the pit crew that much, but he sent some videos to us. The crazy thing now is my son, who is four, loves race cars.
Dr. Dobson: Does he really?
Benjamin Watson: Anytime the race comes on, he won't sit there and watch the whole race, we'll watch 10 minutes of it, but he's... Actually, he's five now. Whenever a race car comes on, he wants to see a race car.
My brother doesn't even work pit crew anymore. My brother now is in full time ministry. My brother, he lives in Charlotte with his wife, and they're expecting their second. He's the only one that played football. The others gravitated to different things. One's an actor. One's doing acting at College of Charleston. The other's a teacher, my sister. One played volleyball. The other did journalism.
But yeah, he's not even in NASCAR anymore. But now even in my house, I turn on the NASCAR race every now and then. He's not even out there anymore. Just to see what's going on. Breaking down barriers and stuff.
Dr. Dobson: Ben, you speak to a lot of men's groups. What's number one? What is the first thing you tell those guys when you get up?
Benjamin Watson: The first thing I tell them is about legacy. I usually use the word legacy.
I was speaking to a men's group, a small men's group at a school, matter of fact. The men came together... It was an elementary school, and they did this program with it. But the dads were able to come out on a night, and it was like a dad's night. I went there. It was in Baltimore, Maryland. I talked to them about legacy and understanding the opportunity they have to change the course of generations by making decisions that they make, good and bad.
A lot of dads don't understand the gravity of the position that they have. They also don't understand their power. They're being told by our culture that says that they don't matter, and that the kids are going to be okay, and that you know what? It's too hard for you to be a dad. It's too hard for you to stay with one woman. It's too hard for you to do any of these things. You're a product of your instinct and all those things. My purpose was to tell them that they have a chance to leave a legacy, even if it wasn't demonstrated to them.
The first thing I tell them is we've got to address and find out what real manhood is, and we find that in scripture. Whether they're believers or not, the tenets of scripture that we see about service, about selflessness, about sacrifice, about power, about respect, about integrity. All those biblical values, whether you're a believer or not, those things are universal when it comes to manhood. A lot of times, men are being told that those things aren't important. I'm telling them, "No, your kids need you. You can't expect for your kids to be something that you're not."
Dr. Dobson: You started a foundation called One More. Tell us about that.
Benjamin Watson: Yeah. Well, in 2008, we were in New England and we knew we were about to have our first kid. A lot of guys have foundations for different things, whether it's for cancer or whether it's for autism or whatever it may be. All great things. But we wanted to start a 501(c)(3) where people could donate and people could be involved. Because what we found was a lot of people want to do some great things in their community, they just don't know where to start. We wanted to be sort of a conduit to allow people to exercise their charity, their charitable initiatives, and have a place where they could plug in.
So we started our foundation called One More. The whole purpose is spreading the love and hope of Christ to one more soul by meeting people's real needs by promoting education, by partnering with existing charities and just supporting them.
The reason why we wanted to start a foundation was we knew that probably in the NFL, we weren't going to be in the same place for 14 years. We didn't even know we were going to be there for 14 years. But our hope was that if we went to another place, whatever city we went to, if we did one event, two events, or five or six events, when we left, we wanted people to say, "You know what? The Watsons came here. They gave their all on the field. But they were people who wanted to change lives in their communities."
When we look back, that's what we've been. We've had some great relationships in Boston, and Cleveland, in New Orleans, and now in Baltimore. We wanted our name to be one that people held in high esteem. Not just because of football, even though that's what I do for a living, but because we cared about people, we provided for people, and most importantly, we showed the love of Jesus to people. Whenever we do an event, whether it's for clothing, whether it's empowering parents to be the heroes in their kid's life or whatever it may be, we always want to tell them and leave them with an opportunity and at least the knowledge of understanding that, while this is important, your spiritual life is so much more important.
Dr. Dobson: Ben, you're dead serious about serving the Lord, aren't you?
Benjamin Watson: Yes, sir.
Dr. Dobson: I mean, that really is what drives you.
Benjamin Watson: Yeah. That's right.
Dr. Dobson: It's not necessarily football.
Benjamin Watson: My mom and dad say I always said I wanted to be a football player and a missionary. When I was a kid, that's what I wanted to be.
Dr. Dobson: That's quite a combination.
Benjamin Watson: Exactly.
Dr. Dobson: How do you get both those things done?
Benjamin Watson: Again, I went to church a lot, I saw a lot of missionaries. So kids say a lot of things that they don't know what they mean. But whether I meant it or not as a kid, I can say looking over my life right now, God's blessed me with a chance to do both. Because I've had the opportunity to live in different places, and whether it's locally or whether it's going overseas, which I've been able to do as well, he's opened doors for me to spread the gospel. Ultimately, that's my goal.
Again, it's doing that by doing a book like The New Dad's Playbook, talking about fatherhood from a perspective of helping dads - but also the reason why is because of their heavenly Father - to supporting other issues, whether it be social justice or sex trafficking or other things that we've been involved with.
I do that because in the book of Jeremiah chapter nine, one of my favorite verses when it says, "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, let not the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for I delight in these things." When I think about that verse, I think about number one, the humility. Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, or the rich man, or the strong man boast in the things that they have. But boast that you know the Lord, and the Lord delights in those things. So those are things that I want to delight in. I want to delight in things that are kind. I want to delight in justice. I want to delight in truth. So for me, for us, for our family, that kind of narrows our focus when it comes to what we want to pour our resources into, our time into, and what we want to devote our lives to.
Dr. Dobson: Ben, you're a very impressive individual. I'm really delighted to have a chance to get acquainted with you.
Benjamin Watson: It's good to be here.
Dr. Dobson: Have you fly all the way across the country to be with us today. The title of your book, Benjamin Watson, foreword by Meg Meeker, MD, The New Dad's Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life.
I want to say to our listeners who are out there, all of you know young men who don't know the content of this book, who haven't spent time thinking about it. They've been told those lies you were talking about. That you're not worthy. That you can't do this. That it's not a life you can live. So they're winging it, and a lot of them are making a mess out of it. You've got practical advice here telling them how to support their wives, how to have a good marriage in the midst of the pressure of something as intense as the NFL. And you've done it with zeal, and the Lord is obviously leading your life. I'm very, very glad to meet you and to know you. I hope you'll call me your friend from now on.
Benjamin Watson: Of course, good to meet you too, doctor. Again, it was a pleasure to sit here with you. Having heard your voice for the last... Probably my whole life, 36 years.
Dr. Dobson: It's a little weird today, but...
Benjamin Watson: For the last 36 years, and read your books. Again, my family of six kids has been directly influenced by your commitment to the Lord and your commitment to families. So when you look at that and when you look at thousands of other families that can say the same thing, and when you look at their kids are having kids now, the generations and generations, again, it's about legacy. That's what you've done. So I want to say thank you.
Dr. Dobson: Well, I've got a book on that subject. We'll send that home with you.
Benjamin Watson: I know. It's the name of it, huh?
Dr. Dobson: Yeah.
Benjamin Watson: So, I say thank you to you.
Dr. Dobson: Well, you showed me a picture of your family. You've got one gorgeous family.
Benjamin Watson: Thank you.
Dr. Dobson: You really do. Not only your kids, but your wife.
Benjamin Watson: Thank you.
Dr. Dobson: Next time, you bring her.
Benjamin Watson: Will do. My wife and my dad. We're going to make a family trip.
Dr. Dobson: Bring your mom and dad too. The whole family.
Benjamin Watson: We've got to make a family trip. I want to go skiing too one of these days too.
Dr. Dobson: We will roll out the red carpet for you. Thanks for being with us and for living the Christian life in what is sometimes a challenging place, isn't it?
Benjamin Watson: Yeah. Yeah, but I would say this, we all, men and women, all have our own challenges. The NFL, obviously, it's on TV, there's certain pressures that are unique to the National Football League, for sure. But there are common temptations, whether it be pride, whether it be lust, whatever it may be, that we all face, whatever walk of life we're in. So while you see a lot that happens in the NFL, if you think about your own lives, there isn't nothing that's unique. It just comes in different forms. And so, we all need the Lord when it comes to living the Christian life, because that's the only way we do it is by the Spirit.
Dr. Dobson: We've been talking to Benjamin Watson. Okay, how can they get a copy of this book? The New Dad's Playbook.
Benjamin Watson: Yes. Whatever retailer you use, whether it be Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or whatever it may be. I hate to leave one out. But it will be on all those as well as electronically. It was done by Baker Publishing as well. So if you go on the Baker Publishing site, you'll be able to find it there.
Dr. Dobson: Say hello to your family. Have a good flight home.
Benjamin Watson: Thank you. Will do.
Roger Marsh: Well, this is Roger Marsh once again. You've been listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. Hope you've enjoyed listening to Dr. Dobson's two-part conversation with former NFL star Benjamin Watson.
It is so important to cherish and admire the men God has put into our lives. For the dads who have tuned in today, be sure to take seriously the role that you have in your children's lives.
Now, you can learn more about our guest when you go to today's broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org. Once you're there, you'll find links to the many organizations that Ben is involved with and also his book called The New Dad's Playbook. You can also request a broadcast CD of this entire conversation when you go to that page as well. You'll find all this and much more when you visit drjamesdobson.org.
I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for listening. And thanks for your continued prayer and support of Family Talk. Have a blessed day.
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