Ben and Jewel Tankard are not parents who shy away from or bite their tongues when it comes to any subject and preparing their children for life. As for the second season of “Thicker Than Water: The Tankards,” Ben says “Fasten your seat belts because my family is full of surprises.”
The new season will be filled with surprises, but don’t expect to read spoilers here. But what this writer can share is that you will learn Ben’s back story and why he’s an award-winning musician. “We’re celebrating 25 years of me in the music business. You’ll get to see the work behind the awards. During season one, you saw the the gold albums but you don’t know how they came about. I am actually recording on some of the episodes,” offers Ben.
Cyrene has left home to attend Howard University. Jewel is involved in a few new business ventures that include fashion and finance. The children too are growing in their businesses and Marcus is a strong part of the ministry. Let’s just say the Tankards are reaping the fruits of their labor.
Just before the holiday season, rolling out had the distinct opportunity to catch up with Ben and Jewel before the premiere of season two, which aired on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2015, at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Read what they discussed.
On why they feel it’s important to speak so candidly about sex with their kids
“It’s very important that we as parents discuss sex with our children,” says Jewel. “It was uncomfortable to have that kind of candid conversation with my daughter about sex. I really just want to say ‘Don’t do it until you get married.’ And bury my head in the sand, but you and I know that’s not very realistic. I think it’s really important because they will hear about it in songs, at school, among friends … sex is a big part of our culture.
“If the purpose is not explained in detail why we have it, then abuse is inevitable. I feel it’s the best thing you can do for your children is to talk to them about sex, [set] boundaries and [teach them] to value their body. Once a woman, [or girl], engages in sex, she opens herself up to depression, disappointment and discouragement. There is so much that comes with a woman giving her body to her man who isn’t her husband.”
“I believe God wants us as parents to guide our children like an arrow. Once that arrow takes flight, it may take its own [journey] but at least you’ve started them along the right path,” Ben adds.
Secrets to a healthy marriage
“One of the things people complain about reality TV is that it’s not real. I believe it’s because people edit what they normally do. In our case, when the cameras come they shoot everything; we leave it up to the editors to air what they want to air. We are ourselves. It is normal for Jewel and I to go to the park and flirt with each other. It is normal for me to wink my eye or hit her on the butt when I walk through the kitchen. People do what you do; they don’t do what you say. I am setting the example for other married men to respect, surprise and keep your wife motivated and happy. I think the best way is to show them and not just tell them,” explains Ben.
On why this faith-based reality show brings balance to reality TV programming
“It is a positive family show about real-life issues. We are not ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and we’re not some of the other ones either. It shows a healthy family, a Black man who is very much present in his children’s life who talks about mistakes he made as a father when he went through his divorce, how it impacted the children, how you can have restoration and redemption. Then, it shows me being that wife, which is a huge part of if that man will be close to his children or not,” Jewel avers.
“A woman has the ability to make or break any family, depending on what she says and how she treats the children, how she treats challenges and issues. He gives a lot of hope to families that are blended and traditional. To be honest, there are a lot of the same issues there. I pushed Ben to be close to his children and for them to be close to me as well. We deal with all those dynamics.”
“This is not a faith-based show. We are faith-based people,” Ben corrects. “Bravo didn’t sign us because we love Jesus. They just happen to so graciously allow us to bring Jesus, because it’s who we are. It is not intended to be a religious show. It is not intended to be edited and critiqued by the standards of the Bible. We just happen to be Christians. You may see our values bleed over into the conversation. But when you go to the gas station, we don’t go to a gospel gas station. When we go to the grocery store, we don’t go to gospel grocery store.”