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Celebrating the Journey to Becoming a Dad

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2024 2:13 am

Celebrating the Journey to Becoming a Dad

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 14, 2024 2:13 am

After a successful football career in the NFL, Benjamin Waston has turned his attention to celebrating fatherhood by encouraging first-time dads to be the man their wife and children need them to be. Benjamin speaks into the crisis of fatherlessness and the necessity for men to step up and take responsibility. A father’s role is a cornerstone in the family, and men must be ready to be physically and emotionally present. Benjamin walks through practical steps that dads can follow during the pregnancy all the way to raising newborns. Parenting kids is a full time commitment and can be chaotic at times, but Benjamin reminds us that all children are a gift from God.

 

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When you go home, if you need to sit in the driveway or on the curb or on the street for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever, before you go in that house, you need to leave work at work. When you go in there, your husband, your father. Well, that's Benjamin Watson and he's our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, talking about the important role, Dad, that you have in the family.

I'm John Fuller and thanks for joining us. And according to the National Center for Fathering, over 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. And I think our culture is reaping the whirlwind because of that. Dad's probably had a misunderstood role in the family. Researchers didn't understand it, but now the data is coming and it's not positive in fatherless homes. I came from a single parent home. I think with the Lord's help, anything's overcomable, but the difficulty for, especially those single moms, my heart goes out to them because there is so much that a dad provides. You look at drug addiction, runaway, completing school, high school or college, the presence of a father tends to raise that for everybody. And today we want to talk about the importance of dads. And no dad is perfect. I certainly am not. The book I wrote was The Good Dad.

It was just aimed for being good. And there's so many things we're going to learn today with our special guest. Yeah, Benjamin Watson has been here a number of times. He's very recognizable. He played in the NFL for 17 years. Won a Super Bowl ring in 2004 with the Patriots and also played for the Saints and the Browns and the Ravens before retiring in 2020. He's the founder of the Watson Seven Foundation, which helps strengthen families by enriching marriages and equipping parents. And Benjamin and his wife, Kirsten, have seven children, ages 15 down to four. He's the author of the book, The New Dad's Playbook, gearing up for the biggest game of your life. Amen. It's a wonderful resource. Get a copy from us here at the ministry.

It's 800, the letter A in the word family, or the details are in the show notes. Benjamin, it's great to have you back. Man, always good to be here.

Always good to be here with you guys. I love to geek out about your football career. 17 years in the NFL is a long time. I appreciate the extra year.

It was it was 16. Yeah, we'll give you an extra year. I'll take the extra year if you're going to add to the, you know, 401K and all that stuff. I don't want the injuries of the 17th year.

But once it gets past 10, it's a blur anyway. So, yeah, that's part of it. I remember you and I were talking when I think the Patriots at the end of your career, they called you and said, hey, would you do a year, another year with us? And you said it was hard to turn down the offer. I mean, because they had Tom Brady. And any time you have Tom Brady, you've got a chance to win a Super Bowl. We didn't that year. But if I was going to go play another year and drag my family through it, there's opportunity to win. But it's just it's just it's an amazing thing.

You know, most men that played sports, especially those of us that played football, very few make it to that level. And it is kind of a wow. How did you do that kind of thing? How did you do that? I'm stubborn. I'm stubborn. You know, I look back on my career. We moved around four different cities, some of them twice.

I really only was able to do it. I've got a great wife. Well, yeah, that's for sure.

You know her, Kirsten. Truly tremendous being able to pack up the whole family, move across the country, redo the whole thing, get settled again. It's an exciting life, but it presents a lot of challenges.

And I was blessed to be able to play for that long in spite of a lot of injuries, too. Why do you think becoming a dad is such a frightening thing to so many young men today? You know, hopefully in the context of marriage, but it doesn't always happen that way today.

Yeah, yeah. It's frightening because I think innately men understand the responsibility of raising another human being. Do you think they know that even though many will walk away from that responsibility?

I think they're convicted. Well, let's look in the garden. Look at the first man.

He walked away. Inside of us, we have this proclivity, I think, to shun responsibility totally and to desert and to be silent and to not step into things that are hard. Many times men flee. And I think we inherited much of that in our sin nature from our first father in Adam. And so you see men who understand the power and the importance of having a child. But perhaps it wasn't demonstrated to them or even if they had a father. Look, I had a great dad growing up, but they don't give you any directions for raising a kid like you leave the hospital and have nothing.

There's no manual. They give you better directions for putting together a bicycle than they do for raising a kid. And so it can be a very scary thing for a dad, especially if if he's not even secure in his own masculinity.

And he is as a man to ask him to do that for someone else is a tall task in his mind. We talked about the latter part of your years in the NFL, in the locker room, you kind of were seen as the older guy, you know, and the younger guys would come talk to you and seek you out for wisdom and things like that. In that context, in the book, you've written about some of those athlete experiences where guys. I mean, my brother in law worked for the Raiders. He saw hotels filled with young women that would come to the hotel where the Raiders are at just wanting to have a baby with an athlete so that their child might become that great athlete. Right. But it's that kind of environment, highly sexualized. But with those young guys, what what did they say to you about being a dad?

You know, I don't want to marry anybody. Yeah. Well, you know, the the opposite was sometimes true.

A lot of guys. I remember a conversation I had. I was playing for the Baltimore Ravens.

So at this point, I was in year 13 or 14. And there was a young guy had just, you know, he found out as his girlfriend was pregnant and we're just talking, sitting in the training room. We both had an injury.

I think I was rehabbing an Achilles rupture and he was rehabbing something else. And so we were just talking and he said, you know, I want to be a great dad. I just don't know how, but like I know it's important. I want to be the dad for this child that I didn't have.

But I don't know how. And I think that that's a sentiment for a lot of young men that I came in contact with throughout my time in the NFL. Yeah. You had some guys who didn't think it was important. You had some guys who were married and had plenty of kids. I mean, I got some great fatherly advice from a teammate of mine named Teddy Brewski before I even had kids. Linebacker. Yeah. Linebacker in New England. You know, none of those guys have good advice as a former quarterback.

Let me tell you those guys. Exactly. So there's this community within the locker room. But I found that a lot of a lot of guys, especially those who perhaps didn't have the best father growing up, want to do the exact opposite. But they just don't know how and don't know if they can do it. Yeah.

And I think that's the point. But it goes back to what you said earlier, that the feeling of being scared, you know, and not wanting to follow that. You mentioned Kirsten, your wife. She is a strong, wonderful woman.

And what did Kirsten tell you that helped change your mindset in caring about her and caring for her? Well, it's interesting. We talked about earlier in this conversation about the fact that, you know, part of the difficulty with a transition out of sports is there aren't one hundred thousand people every single week shouting your name.

There aren't people coming to interview you. They're not people like tweeting at you anymore. And so you're out of this fandom and your quote unquote regular. And I remember her telling me, like, when you come home, I'm not one of your fans.

Like, I'm not a fan. I'm your spouse. I'm your friend. I'm your wife. I'm your confidant.

I'm your lover. And for me, I knew all those things, but I guess I was treating her not like I should. And it's just one of those reminders that, you know, the relationship between husband and wife in the home is mutual. Fandom is what can I get from you?

And the relationship with your spouse is what can I do for you? That's good. I mean, that's a really interesting insight. I mean, when you're in the spotlight and your wife is there trying to keep you on the ground. Yeah. Many women feel insecure about their bodies, obviously.

Men do, too, to be frank. That's part of it. But you had a story in the book about a time when you were thinking and I think Kirsten may have been pregnant. I can't remember exactly, but you kind of went out of your way to demonstrate.

I'm thinking about you. Yeah. And you called some place to get some clothing for her.

What happened? Maternity clothes. Looking back on it now. So, you know, this was years ago. We, you know. I found out very early in my marriage about body image and especially as a woman's body goes through so much when they're pregnant. Stuff that we don't get. Something we can't understand.

You know, we can appreciate it. But the words we say as as husbands, I always say that that loving your child or starting your family starts before the baby is even in your arms. And that starts with how you treat mom, how you treat your wife, how you treat the mother of your child.

What are you saying? How are you affirming her? How are you loving her? How are you speaking life into her as she's going through all these physical changes? Part of the book is really telling men these are the changes that are going to happen.

Here's what you can do to be the best version of yourself to support her. And I remember sitting on on the locker room floor in New England. Buying maternity clothes from this British this company in the UK that had these awesome maternity clothes, you know, dresses and stuff that were form fitting. Yeah. It wasn't like a three X. Don't go buy your wife a three X T-shirt and say it's maternity clothes.

That's not going to get you where you're going. But these were made specifically for her. You always learn something and focus on the family. These are made specifically for women who are going through pregnancy at different stages and they look great. And we did a maternity shoot with her with these clothes. And something like that is just a gesture to show that you are you are researching and you understand and you care about what she's going through. That was risky.

Yeah. But she liked it. Oh, she loved it. She loved it. I won. That could be risky. I was the man.

Yeah. Did you buy maternity clothes? I never bought maternity clothes.

I didn't do that for Jean either. So we get an F. The name of the place is called, I think it was called Isabella Oliver. I think that was the name of the company.

I don't know if they're still in business, but there are plenty of maternity. Yeah. You just got to do a little research. Which is what she loved.

The fact that you did the research. So new dad, think about your wife. That's one of the best things here.

Yeah, exactly. We're talking to Benjamin Watson today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and he's written this terrific book, The New Dad's Playbook, gearing up for the biggest game of your life. And you can find out more at our website.

We've got the details in the show notes. Hey, Benjamin, one thing that is really critical in that regard, you know, depending upon what mom's doing and what wife is doing, making sure she gets ample amounts of love and respect, obviously. So Kirsten, like Jean, worked at home. You know, she didn't homeschool. I think your wife is homeschooling, which is a whole other thing.

But that idea we need to honor them as wives and as mothers in the relationship because they're working hard. Yeah. I mean, we think they're sitting at home doing nothing, but that isn't what they're doing. You know what?

What you just said right there. Another conversation that I've had in my workplace at times was we're here doing this. They're over here doing nothing. Right. And I always look at the guy like, what do you mean by that? They're keeping your kids alive.

They're keeping you alive, actually. Like many of you would have forgot to put on your underwear if your wife didn't tell you. And so, you know, but just that idea, I think, is dangerous.

Yeah. And we as men, I think, have to be careful with how we joke about those sorts of things and how we challenge other men. But, you know, the wonderful book about love languages. And if you read that book or any other book about languages, you understand that that every woman has kind of a different way she feels cared for and loved as a man, as a father, is your job to be a student of her.

And, you know, for Kirsten, you know, the words of affirmation telling her that she's done a great job affirming her in what she's doing. Man, you are taking care of the house. If she's working outside of the house, you're doing a great job there. You know, being specific about those different things shows with intentionality shows that we care. I think a lot of guys, many times we just feel like if we're the primary breadwinner, then we have some outsized worth in the house and she's lesser. Well, I can't imagine in your profession that was not extreme.

I mean, you're an NFL football player. So these things become even more separated, I would think. So you've got to work extra hard to make sure she's as valued as you are. Yeah.

Well, you have to be you just have to be intentional with it. Yeah, I think. And what happens is I'm sure you've experienced that when you pour into her the right way, it's like everything becomes so much easier.

Yeah. She flourishes. And our wives have such abilities just because as the man, you go out of the house if she doesn't. You know, many women do.

You go out of the house and people tell you how good you are and affirm you and give you performance reviews and all those sorts of things. Don't automatically think that you're doing a better job at your job and she's doing it what God has given her to do. Well, what you said is so true. And it shows our lack of IQ, actually, because for guys, I mean, we will we will do the opposite of what produces that healthy relationship. And I can't even tell you why. I mean, why we don't think if we do a little investment with our wives affirming her, you know, speaking to her and her.

That's Gary Chapman. Our great friends love languages. It's a wonderful book if you haven't read it. But, you know, we don't go out of our way.

How many hours did you spend trying to run a route or do a blocking assignment? And Bill Belichick, that wasn't it. Watson, you got to put your left foot. Yeah. But I mean, think of that. And then we don't apply that really generally as men in our marriages. We don't think about it, which is the problem. We don't really work that hard. It's about prioritizing.

Yeah, it's about prioritizing. And so often, you know, going back to that that word of advice that I got from my teammate, Teddy Brewski, he one time told me because I'm a perfectionist. What did he say to you? I don't think we said that. I know I'm going to. You know, I teased it. Now we're going to talk about it.

But I'm a perfectionist. When I would have a great game, I would be a pleasure to be around when I had a bad practice or a bad game. No, but you know, I don't want to be around anybody. I took a lot of it before we had kids. I took a lot of it out on my wife on Kirsten. You know, I'd be argumentative at home, you know, just really unpleasant. I wasn't being the husband that I should be. And I remember Teddy told me, he said, when you go home, you need to leave work at work.

And if you have it seems very simple. Right. But think about how hard it is for men to do this.

Totally. When you go home, if you need to sit in the driveway or on the curb on the street for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever. Before you go in that house, you need to leave work at work. When you go in there, your husband, your father, you're all the things that we say is important. But so often we bring all of the failure or the success of our occupation into our home life. And we end up creating a crucible of discouragement and fear and anger in a place that matters the most, where we have the most impact. And we sacrifice that because we're getting paid over here and we're being honored over here in our work. And then at home, we're a shell of ourselves or we're so preoccupied with stuff going on out there that we there were not the fathers and the men that were supposed to be.

But that's so applicable to everybody, every man. It's a daily exercise. And so I got tremendously better at it. Kirsten would even say from that point and different inflection points in my life, but still something that that can creep up.

Yeah. And we don't even notice it why we're grumpy, why we're ornery. You have a story. And I think this is really good.

The context is big family. I mean, you and John both. You've got we've got six and you've got seven. I got two. But when you travel on an airplane, you've got nine tickets.

It's an investment. Yeah. But you had a flight attendant, a male flight attendant that you're getting all organized. I can't imagine what that organization looks like with seven kids.

The kids are incredible. Describe what happened. You mentioned in the book.

But describe what happened and what he said to you. Yeah, I think it was a situation where I was flustered. I said, put that in there.

Yeah, exactly. I was flustered. The kids are great in the airport. I mean, honestly, our kids go through the airport sometimes faster and more efficiently. Very used to single people. Yeah. I'm looking at them like it's just you.

Why is it so difficult for you to go through security? I dare you to say that. The look says it all. But I think it was one of those days, you know, in parenting where you've got four kids, four and under.

We had seven kids between the age of 10 years span. And it's just a lot. It's just a lot. And I remember getting on an airplane.

I forgot where we were going and just sitting there like, Lord, this is I'm sweating. This is a lot. You know, these kids are driving me crazy. And this flight attendant comes down the aisle and just looks at our family and, you know, just says, wow, these kids are beautiful. You're so blessed. And then then I think they said and those this happened multiple times.

One of them said, I wish that I wouldn't have a big family, but I haven't been able to. Wow. And just that was a witness. Yeah.

Yeah. And so sometimes other people can see your blessing and you can't even see it. Yeah, that is so good. Like other people, other people will see the beauty of what God has done in your life. And in this case, the kids in the family and encourage you in that time as a parent where you feel terrible that you're doing an awful job.

That is too much that you can't do it. And then God will use a flight attendant on a flight to say, man, look at what I've done. It's actually when your attitude is bad. Exactly. And immediately I'm like, Lord, thank you. Thank you that we're on the plane.

Thank you that we're able to go where we're going. Absolutely. I'm sure it's chaos, but chaos isn't necessarily bad. No, I call it our K ordered life. K ordered.

K ordered. It's chaos with order. That's a bit of your dad in you. But let me let me ask you, we've got a few minutes left, but how is manhood laid out in the Bible? And why is the presence of a father in a family so critical? We touched on it in the opening way back when. But I think, you know, our good friend, Dr. Brad Wilcox, researchers, sociologists out of the University of Virginia and others are now coming to this conclusion.

Aha. Dads play a big role in the well-being of a family when they're doing their role correctly or adequately. So in that context, like what do you see in the Bible about being a husband and a father? The Bible talks a lot about fatherhood, talks a lot about marriage, being a husband, talks about how marriage is a reflection of Christ and his church, the importance of marriage in our culture. It talks about, you know, children being an inheritance of Psalm 127 from the Lord, being like arrows in the hand of a warrior.

The idea that our children are, you know, a weapon, so to speak, that we sharpen our arrows that there we want to send them out into the world, fully equipped to do every good work. And that comes from the father. We see in scripture where fathers don't do their job. We think about people like I was reading about Eli, about the priest and how he's letting his sons do things that were an abomination.

What happens when a father is not active? We see the repercussions of that. But we also see a God who says that he will, you know, be a father for the fatherless. And we see that ultimately when it comes to fatherhood, we as men are called to be the priest providers, protectors in our homes. We're to provide for our families. That's what the Bible calls us to do. You know, we're to protect them physically, emotionally, spiritually. We're to be like a priest for them. We're supposed to go before the Lord on behalf of our families, asking God to love them, to forgive them. We're supposed to be a prophet in our home. And what a prophet does is speaks the word of God to God's people.

And so as a father, as a prophet, you are to be leading your family when it comes to devotions or reading scripture and speaking truth. Exactly. Yes. Yes.

So you're to be those things as a man. And so often we see in scripture where that doesn't happen, how home suffer, how communities suffer, how nations suffer. Yeah. But when that does happen, how there's generational blessing.

Yeah. But within all that, we see a God who can break curses. We see a God who fills the gap. We see a God who if someone doesn't have a father, they can change the course of the entire generation. And so there's not a hopelessness if you haven't been that dead.

On the contrary, there's great hope because of a God who can cover with his grace over all of our missteps and over all your daddy's missteps and his daddy's missteps and can lead you into your purpose. You know, right at the end here, let me let me continue with that thinking, because you are a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I think we as men struggle with that.

If we can't do something well, men particularly will move away from that and not do it. In that regard, being that perfectionist, you can't be the perfect husband. You're a really good husband. I could see it. You can't be a perfect dad, but you're a really good dad.

I can see that. So what word do you have for us to hang in there, to engage and become better over time? Yeah, your presence is more important than your perfection. Your presence is more important than your perfection. And presence is not just physical. You can be physically present and emotionally absent. Your presence is about your emotional availability for your wife and for your kids. Your presence is about your spiritual readiness to engage.

And also your presence is about physically being there. And prioritizing your time with your family, with your wife at home. We're all going to fail. And I think that the larger issue for me as a perfectionist is not understanding grace.

Yeah. And a lot of times as a perfectionist, I'll give grace to other people. Won't give it to myself. For some reason, I think I'm above grace.

Wow. And what God is saying, no, my grace is enough for you. My blood is enough for you as a father, as a worker, as a husband, as a leader, as a businessman, whatever it is, as a sinner. My grace is enough for your perfection.

Don't think that you're above it. The last thing is about perseverance. Baba talks a lot about perseverance, and it's not too late as a dad. If you haven't done this thing well and you've been poor at it, you've been absent physically, emotionally, spiritually. Maybe you've been violent, whatever it is. You've done things that you know you shouldn't. It's time to turn your hearts back to ask for forgiveness. I've had to do that before.

Say something to the kid. Shouldn't have said that. And then persevere to move forward because you understand that there's a certain goal and that in order to get there, you've got to persevere through. Wow. That is good stuff, Benjamin.

You'd be a key in any locker room. Yeah, seriously. Your great book, The New Dad's Playbook, gearing up for the biggest game of your life. And it's so true at the end of it.

You've already done it. You retired at 39. Now when you get down the next many years, it's your family that's most important. Yeah.

I mean, it might have been great to catch a pass from Brady, but man, it's going to be a much better thing to catch a pass from one of your kids. Exactly. Exactly.

And you know what? And you know, whatever job you're in, you know, sometimes people say, you know, what's the family work balance? That's always been a question.

And, you know, I always answer that question by saying, look, we all have different occupations. We all need to make decisions with our family in mind. But whatever time you have at home, you need to be fully invested.

Another good piece of advice. Totally. You could be a guy who works from home and a guy who doesn't work at all, but not be fully invested or a guy who works a nine to five in his home for five hours with his kids. But those five hours he's pouring into them. He's open with them.

You know, he engages with them, honors his wife, loves her how she needs to be loved. That guy is being impactful with God has given him to do. Well said.

That's for sure. Benjamin, this has been great. Again, your your book, The New Dad's Playbook. I think you get the heart of it and so much wisdom in here.

I hope we've touched the surface. Obviously, we can't get into all of it, but you can by getting a copy directly from Focus on the Family. And when you do, all the proceeds go right back into helping families. If you make a gift of any amount, we'll send it to you as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. And Jim, we want to point out that Benjamin's going to be here tomorrow for Sea Life 2024 on the campus of Focus on the Family. If you're looking forward to it, it'd be a great celebration of the gains in the pro-life movement, but also the needs. And what we need to do is the body of Christ to keep moving forward and helping women and those men think through what it means to celebrate life.

And it's always a big thing. And we're looking forward to having you and your wife here. I'm looking forward to it. You're going to see the real hero tomorrow. Well, that is tomorrow.

Sea Life 2024. And if you're not able to join us and we do expect a pretty full auditorium here, you can sign up still for the simulcast and watch from home or a coffee shop or wherever to register for the event or to donate and get Benjamin's book. See the links in the episode notes or call 1-800-A-FAMILY. And John, let's all wish dads a great Father's Day coming up this weekend, too. Indeed.

There's a lot going on. And we're grateful that we can be part of encouraging you as a dad in your journey. And thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back on Monday as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. Mark your calendar to join us on October 28th through 30th right here at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. Visit the focused pastor dot com slash refresh for more details.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-14 05:02:45 / 2024-06-14 05:14:48 / 12

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