Chika Abanobi’s book, “What’s Up Message From ‘Best Dad’ to Dearest Daughter” shows the secret worries, fears that every doting father who has a growing daughter of teenage/adolescent age live with, from time to time, if not day-to-day. It shows the kind of thoughts that run through his mind, perhaps, everyday as he watches his daughter grow under his care and discipline. It focuses on the kind of anxieties he lives with as his daughter comes of age.
Based on some WhatsApp exchanges between the author and his daughter, the book turns out a surrealistic one as it focuses not only on some realities of father-daughter relationship but also serves as a good guide on how to nurse and keep that relationship alive.
It is not every day that a father passes a message to his daughter through the printed form. But that is what the author has done here. He passes a universal message through a personal, direct-address format meant initially for his daughter.
But he decided to turn the message into something of a universal motif, when, as he noted in the introduction to the book, it occurred to him that there could be parents out there, fathers and mothers who desire to pass a similar message to their daughters but do not know how to go about it. It is for the benefit of such fathers or parents that the author decided to turn an otherwise private message into a public one.
But to make the message an effective one, he draws heavily from the treasured memories of dad-daughter relationship of cornucopia of national and international figures. They ranged from Nollywood actresses to international figures like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Malala, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. He uses their examples to show that: one, fathers and daughters are the same all over the world, black and white; and, two, of how their lives present some models that we can always look to and draw from when we don’t know which way to turn to for a guide through troublous times in our father-daughter relationship.
The study-habits models that the author presents in the book, no doubt, help to garnish his intended message with an academic halo that your teenage/adolescent daughter will need to keep herself focused in the maze of things. More than this, the author, drawing inspirations from Richard Templar’s “Rules of Parenting”, C. H. Spurgeon’s “Sermons on Family and Home,” “Spiritual Parenting”, and W. F. Kumuyi’s “Marriage and Family Life: Getting the Best,” offers guides he believes can help parents take care of their wards’ complexes as they turn the corner in their march to adulthood.
Some of the pieces he offered in the book include: allow them to make mistakes; involve them in family decisions; respect their privacy; talk to them like an adult; don’t give advice until they ask for it; ask them for advice; find creative ways to make their chores interesting; teach them the right values; get involved in their world by either watching their TV programmes or playing their games; talk to them about sex in a more practical way; deal with their feelings sincerely; put off character or behaviour that can make them hate your religion or religious profession. Quoting from Rule 38 of “Rules of Parenting”, titled “Apologise if you get it wrong,” the author credited Templar as saying: “the way we behave is the strongest model our kids have for their own behaviour… Lots of parents seem to have a problem with this one. The feeling is that if you admit you were wrong, you undermine your child’s confidence in your all-powerfulness.
If you say you are sorry, they’ll realize you’re not always perfect.” ut Templar countered that belief by noting that “the more ready you are to apologise when you’re are wrong, the more your kids will see that it’s not belittling to admit to being wrong.
And, they’ll also see that everyone makes mistakes and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.” In terms of literary style, Abanobi’s book is epistolary but it is epistolary rooted in instant messaging of WhatsApp mode. That, should, hopefully, give it something of a cross-appeal among readers of old and new testaments. Or, better still the pre- Internet and Internet age