It’s an unusual collection. From the title to the contents and then its philosophy; the Book, What’s up message from best dad to dearest daughter…secret worries of a doting dad by Chika Abanobi; cuts across as a product of a father’s heartfelt inquisition into his daughter’s mind.
In one breath, the title gives it away as a passionate plea to a loving daughter. But then, a careful reading of the 117-page collection shows it’s a book on parenting.
Though the author hides under the cover of an inquirer, he is able to kill two birds with a stone.
One, he is able to make an incursion into the mind of his daughter, who seems to be a metaphor for the girl child and by extension children as it turned out.
Two, he is able to give life to a number of nuggets that help in proper parenting.
What stands out in the book however is the dexterity with which the author puts together all the elements that make for proper parenting without sounding verbose.
The reader is not choked with too many hanging statements that characterise some literary work.
The book is breezy. It can be read at any time, anywhere even while standing. The language, apart from not being clumsy, conveys a sense of compulsion to the reader. You’re not likely to put the book down until you’re done reading it.
From the opening comment to the last word, the author succeeds in piecing together the thoughts and experiences of a wide range of people. The experiences are as compelling as the personalities. There are examples of people with first-class degrees and how they achieved the feat.
There are wisdom nuggets from some pastors like Charles Spurgeon, the celebrated 18th-century British preacher, and Nigeria’s own Pastor Williams Kumuyi. The book also features stories of personalities like Ben Carson, Hilary Clinton, and Michelle Obama.
Abanobi Xrays the lessons drawn from these personalities. He also quotes the works of parenting experts.
But the strength of the book seems inherent in the author’s ability to drag parents into a mirror that reflects their parenting style with a view to correcting them.
As the book progresses, the author keeps asking if he fits the billing of “best dad”. This is a question every parent would want to ask their children. This aligns with the thought-provoking parenting experiences shared in the book. One of such is shared under the topic, “how I bribed my daughter to read.”
Here, Abanobi tells the story of how Richard Ikiebe, a distinguished Nigerian bribed his daughter to cultivate an interest in reading. That story is not only inspiring but a good lead for parents who are worried that their children have no interest in reading.
There is also the story of Hillary Clinton which drives home the point that wastage should not be tolerated in any way.
Hillary, as quoted in the book, says of her father, “Like so many who grew up in the Depression, his fear of poverty (was real)…If one of my brothers or I forgot to screw the cap back on the toothpaste tube, my father threw it out the bathroom window.
“We would have to go outside, even in the snow to search for it in the evergreen bushes in front of the house. That was his way of reminding us not to waste anything. To this day, I put uneaten olives back in the jar, wrap up the tiniest pieces of cheese and feel guilty…In the winter, he would turn off the heat at night to save money, then get up before dawn to turn it back on.”
Apart from this, the author takes ample space to highlight Richard Templar’s ‘The Rules of Parenting’
The rules as noted in the book include: Allow them (teenage children) to make mistakes, involve them in family decisions, respect their privacy, talk to them like adults and teach them how to talk.
Other nuggets noted in the book are: Don’t give advice until they ask for it, ask your kids for advice, find creative ways to make their chores interesting, get them to trust you, and teach them the right values.
Templar as noted by the Abanobi also counsels that parents should talk about sex with their children in a more practical way and deal with their feelings sincerely.
As the book draws to a close, the author in the second to the last chapter writes on “has best dad sinned against you”. Here he shares an unusual story as told by Charles Spurgeon. The story is about two little boys who were one day asked if they would like to go to heaven. “they much to their teacher’s astonishment said they really would not. When they were asked, why not? One of them said, “I would not like to go to heaven because grandpa would be there, and he would be sure to say, “Get along boys, be off with you! I should not like to be in heaven with grandpa”
One unique thing about Abanobi’s effort is that it broke the book writing tradition in a way.
Veteran journalist and author, Mike Awoyinfa rightly notes in his forward to the book, “I find everything about this book impressive, from the text to the illustrations. I find the side-by-side placement of text and graphics as innovative way of lifting the inimitable message the book contains, off the printed page, and permanently etching it on the mind of the reader to make for a long-time memory.”
Without any iota of doubt; the book will make the day of any person who dares to read it, both young and old. But parents will benefit more as the book helps to capture their fears, and fate in parenting.
Review by Gbenga Osinaike