Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson took to Facebook on Sunday to deliver a powerful message to men about the tragic epidemic of fatherlessness in America.
Wastson, who started his post by wishing his followers a Happy Father’s Day, went on to recall how he was in the mall one day feeding his firstborn daughter eight years ago when a teenage girl walked up to him and told him that he is a good dad.
She then said that she never had a father and left Watson with a powerful message: “Be true to your daughter.”
The encounter left the NFL star, a devout Christian who recently released the book, “The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life,” with a profound challenge, as he grappled with the weight of what she told him about her own experience without a dad.
Happy #FathersDay! 8 yrs ago I was in a mall with my firstborn daughter. As I sat on a bench, feeding her, a teenage…
“As she left I felt the incredible pain in her words as well as the challenge she left me with,” he wrote. “Men: Fatherlessness is at an all time high and we as a nation are reaping the consequences. It is past time for us to step up and be who we were designed to be. Fathers, daddies, papas and dads.”
Watson said it isn’t always easy, but that children need their dads, noting that fathers can be “world changers” through their children.
“Walk with them, talk with them, love them, empower them, kiss them, squeeze them, affirm them, esteem them, protect them, teach them, and simply be with them,” he concluded. “You can do it! Now is the time.”
Fatherhood is a topic Watson frequently addresses, with his new book, “The New Dad’s Playbook,” aiming to help new dads navigate the wonderful and complex world of parenting. A description of the book promises to help men be the “best partner and best father” before, during and after a pregnancy.
“It tells men what to expect when their baby is home—and what to do when the unexpected happens,” the description reads. “This tell-it-like-it-is book will take men from just winging it to winning it.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 69 percent of children in the U.S. under the age of 18 lived with two parents in 2016, with that proportion decreasing from 88 percent in 1960. Meanwhile, the percentage of children living only with their mothers skyrocketed from 8 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 2016.