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The Caw: Benjamin Watson Talks About His Release Of 'The New Dad's Playbook'

Posted May 2, 2017

The Ravens tight end and father of five has released his second book, a guide for dads on how to support the mothers of their children and the babies themselves.


Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson never aspired to be an author.

That’s quickly changing, as his second book, “The New Dad’s Playbook” hits shelves today, giving fathers a guide on how to support the mothers of their children and the babies themselves.

Watson released his first book, “Under Our Skin” about the racial turmoil in the United States in November of 2015. At that time, he had already begun working on “The New Dad’s Playbook.”

A father of five young children, Watson and his wife, Kirsten, worked on the playbook together. It can be purchased at newdadsplaybook.com, Amazon or wherever you get your books.

Here’s a Q&A with Watson about the book:

Q: Why did you want to write it?

“Actually, it was my wife. When your wife tells you to do something, you do it [laughs]. We have five children, but after our second, she was saying I should do a handbook for new dads and answer some of the questions they may have. As a father, I remember the first time – and even the second and third time – feeling overwhelmed. You wonder as a dad, ‘Do I have what it takes?’ You get to the hospital and they give you more instructions for building a bike than raising a child. You have questions about diapers and feeding the child and how it’s going to be with intimacy with me and the mother. Her body is changing. How am I going to deal with this morning sickness? Is she going to be in a bad mood and how can I make things better? There are so many questions that come up. Being that I’m in a locker room and I’m around guys all the time – a bunch of guys – some of them are having kids for the first time or second or third time. Everybody has these questions.

“The whole purpose is to encourage men to, No. 1, support the women who are having their children. Support them through pregnancy and through birth and those first weeks when they come home. But it’s also to give men knowledge about the practical and medical terms that they are going to hear, and to encourage them that they have what it takes, and to empower them to live this thing out from a place of strength and leadership instead of a place of fear, because it can be a scary time.”

Q: Did Kirsten say you should write it because you were such a good dad in the beginning, or because you didn’t know what you were doing?

“Oh, because I was phenomenal [laughs]! I think it was [option] B. I think that she saw my growth. I will say this, there are a lot of things that I said that were stupid and I maybe didn’t do the right thing at the right time. My heart was in the right place to try to support her, but practically I didn’t know what to do. Even though I’m the oldest of six kids and had some experience with babies with my younger siblings, it’s different when you’re solely responsible and she’s having a baby for the first time as well. Even dads who have kids can take from the book that you have to go back to square one. One of the things that mothers fear is, ‘Yeah, you were all supportive the first time and you were there for me. You made me a snack when I wanted a snack, you got me a nice pillow and you massaged my hips when they were hurting.’ But as you have multiple kids, the fear that a lot of women express is that they don’t get that same care. So, even me as I read over the book, it’s important that even on the fifth kid you treat the mother as if it’s the first.”

Q: What’s the toughest lesson you learned early on as a parent?

“That everything is not going to be perfect. You have an idea of what it’s going to look like as far as the pregnancy and your role in it. Even once the baby gets home, you think you have an idea of how things happen. Then the first thing that happened when we left the house was our daughter wouldn’t eat. My wife was trying to nurse and she wouldn’t latch on. We were worried if she was going to lose weight, is she going to die. She didn’t eat for a day and we had to feed her through a syringe for a couple days until she latched back on. Of course, the baby sleeps miraculously at the hospital, but they get home and go crazy. There were times during pregnancy when I got my wife some clothes. The idea was, ‘Oh she’s pregnant, get her some big clothes to wear.’ No, get her something that fits nicely. I went through that aha moment. Just the idea that there’s no perfect dad, there’s no perfect mom, there’s no perfect situation. You have to be willing to go with the flow, but it’s your desire to do things right and find the right situation for you.”

Q: Do you have a lot of conversations with players in the locker room about parenting?

“I just had a conversation with a guy in the locker room who asked me when the book was coming out because he just found out a month ago that he’s going to be a dad for the first time. Another player had a baby recently and I sent him an advance copy of the book. He had already been through part of it, but there were things that helped him through the later stage. These conversations happen. Any time you have 60 guys together, and you go through a season together, that’s 60 different families affected. You think about the impact that fathers can have on this world and generation. In a locker room, we talk about a lot of different things other than football. Guys really want to be good dads for their kids. Some of them are, some of them aren’t. They’re from different situations. No matter their background, the color of their skin, their economic status or position, across the board most guys want to care for their kids. Some of them just don’t know how. I want the playbook to teach them how.”

Q: A lot of being a good father goes beyond the first few weeks. Do you feel like if you can get guys on the right path, that can lead to a bigger change?

“Yes. You’re building a nest; that’s the way I was illustrating it to the teammate I was just talking to a minute ago. Before the egg hatches, you build the nest. You want the nest to be strong, you want the nest to be protected, you want the nest to be a place that’s nurturing. You want you and your wife, or the baby’s mother if you’re not married, to have a relationship that supports that child and that child feels loved and they get their self-worth from that relationship because they see how you treat her. How you treat her is going to be a direct reflection of how that child sees themselves. Studies show that children gain a lot of their self-worth and identity from seeing how the father treats the mother. While the book is geared toward new dads, specifically, it’s a challenge to all fathers. We live in a time when a third or our children grow up without fathers. They go on to do great things, amazingly, and everybody comes from a different situation. But fatherhood is important. I challenge myself and I also challenge other men that we need to step up and do this thing.”

Q: So is this the beginning of a career as an author?

“Man, I didn’t plan on writing the first one. It was not on my radar. This book was actually going to be the first one. My wife has been telling me that I should do this for a long time. Two or three years ago, we actually started getting it going and finding a publisher, but then the incident happened in Ferguson [Mo.] and ‘Under Our Skin’ was more timely. We just waited a little bit with this one because fatherhood and pregnancy isn’t going anywhere. It’s been a blessing to do these two books on two totally different topics. I don’t have any plans for a third, but if something comes up, I do enjoy putting together thoughts about things I think are important.”

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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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