When his cleats come off, Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson is a husband and father of five who's more concerned about his household than winning a Super Bowl ring.
Wanting to share the lessons he's learned in being a husband and father, Watson was inspired to coach men through the experiences of fatherhood by writing the new book, The New Dad's Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life.
In the book, the 36-year-old NFL star attempts to tackle everything new fathers need to know, from medical terminology to pregnancy sex. It seems no subject is off limits for Watson who aims to educate fathers who are either expecting their first child or adding another bundle of joy to their family.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Watson spoke about the importance of trying to educate new fathers on their path to parenthood.
"I want men to be empowered to enter into this thing not just winging it, but having a plan on how to attack pregnancy by supporting the mother of their child through this process and then go out and execute the game plan. That's why I call it the playbook," he told CP.
"A lot of guys want to be good dads but we don't really know how because they don't give you directions about this whole pregnancy thing and they definitely don't give you directions when you leave the hospital. When guys get done reading the book I want them to feel prepared and encouraged to be the best dad they can be."
Watson knows a thing or two about fatherhood after having his first child in 2008 with his wife, Kirsten, who he married in 2005. After being in the NFL for 13 years, Watson is now a veteran who teammates can look to in the locker room for advice.
There are a lot of misconceptions that new fathers have about parenting, which Watson rattles off as being everything from "Is my wife not going to want to have sex at all during the whole nine months?" To "am I going to spend my whole life savings on diapers?" By providing answers to those questions in his new book, Watson believes he can help ease the nerves that come with parenting.
"There's a lot that's unknown about the process, especially when you haven't gone through it before," he said. "Whether it's your first time being a father or not, it can be pretty nerve racking as far as just knowing what's going on."
Mother's Day is fast approaching and Watson hopes his book can teach men how to better help the women in their families.
"My main goal is just to encourage guys really to prepare for fatherhood and support the women who are having these babies," he said. "While [The New Dad's Playbook] is for the dads, it's also to help the women out as well so they can receive some of the support they need through this process."
There's a good reason why Watson doesn't take his role as a father lightly. He believes that his role in the home is the first example that his children will witness of God's relationship with His sons and daughters.
"As a husband, as a father, I am the initial entry idea to what our Heavenly Father is to my children. While I'm going to be flawed in my representation of their Heavenly Father and I'm going to screw this thing up royally, I have the great privilege of being their first introduction to the fact that they have a Heavenly Father," he said. "When I engage with them I want to be loving with them but also be merciful, just [and] I have to discipline them. It's a tremendous honor and responsibility to be a dad."
Even though he's learned a lot along the way, Watson doesn't claim to be a perfect father and is willing to acknowledge mistakes to his children.
A couple of weeks ago, he admitted to being upset and yelling "shut up" to his kids, a term that isn't allowed in the Watson household. Looking to his Christian faith as an example, Watson humbled himself and asked his children for forgiveness.
"We all fall short from the glory of God and we all need forgiveness. It doesn't matter if you're a believer or you're a child," he said. "I think, specifically, it's important for us as parents to do those sorts of things because it teaches them that 'mommy and daddy need the same Lord that I need. They're not just telling me this just because I need it as a kid.'
"We're demonstrating to them what it looks like to be someone in need of the blood of Christ."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 69 percent of families in the country don't have a two parents in their household.
Watson has witnessed that firsthand, speaking to players in NFL locker rooms who are coping with different family situations.
"The great thing about being in a locker room is I'm in close contact with a lot of guys from different stages of life as far as families go. Some guys' families are with them and they're married, some guys aren't," he said. "But the common thing I see with all of them is they want to be good dads."
When relationships can be salvaged between estranged parents, Watson suggests single parents should try to make that happen. When they can't, he advises fathers to be present as much as possible even if they only have limited time to spend with their children.
Even in households with two parents in them, some working fathers may struggle to be involved to the best of their ability. Watson emphasized the importance of fathers being present in the moment.
"Whether it's going outside and playing basketball, or whatever you do with your kids as they get older, being present while I'm home for the hours that I am home is more important than being home for a bunch of hours and not being present. When we're home we have to be present," he insisted. "Your presence is worth more than your provision. When you're home put the phone down, engage with your children and engage with your spouse in conversation."
More than just trying to promote his book, Watson is shedding a light on the importance of fatherhood that he believes is much needed in today's society.
"There are multiple ills that statistically happen more when the father is not around. So it is incumbent upon dads to be in the home, not just for yourself but for your family," he said. "For the mother of your children, for your wives, it's important. There's a reason family has been the building block of society and why society functions best when families are intact."
Benjamin Watson's The New Dad's Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life. is in stores now. For more information, click here.