Atticus’ Relationship with his Children. In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, there is a wide variety of child-parent relationships, whether the disastrous kind Bob Ewell shares with his children or the loving and respectable one between Atticus and his children. Atticus Finch teaches Jem and Scout life lessons using unconventional methods, but in the end, his teachings are highly ethical and leave a lasting impression on his children. He also treats his children as he expects to be treated, with respect and as adults. His methods and parenting styles vary greatly from other parents in the book, which can be deduced from how the children act. As opposed to Jem and Scout or mostly well-behaved, open-minded children.
An example of Atticus’ parenting style is when Atticus forces Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose after destroying her yard. This punishment seems odd, considering that he is making his child read to a lady calling him a “nigger lover.” But after Mrs. Dubose’s passing, Jem and Scout realize that Mrs. Dubose was battling a morphine addiction all along. Atticus uses this experience to teach his children about bravery and courage. Mrs. Dubose displayed true courage by dying clean from her addiction. Another example of Atticus’ parenting techniques is when he allows Jem and Scout to sit in on the court case against Tom Robinson after Calpurnia notifies him. Any typical parent would tell their children to go home and punish them.
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Instead, Atticus allows his children to stay and take in the course case because he knows Jem and Scout are adult enough and treats them as so. By watching the court case, Jem and Scout realize how cruel the townspeople are towards people of color since the jury convicted Tom Robinson even though it is quite obvious that he is innocent. Also, by staying, Jem and Scout know a little more about how their father acts while working. When Atticus is not teaching life lessons, he is still a very adamant parent. He does not change his attitude towards people whether he is around other adults, at work, or with his children. He does not sugar-coat situations for Scout and Jem, which may harm the short-term, but will build their ability to handle problems as they get older.
For example, he does not hesitate to tell his children, along with Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra, that Tom Robinson has been shot and killed for trying to escape prison. But, of course, a normal parent would not tell a seven-year-old child about someone being killed in that way. Also, Atticus expects his children to respect every human being no matter what their background is, and treat everyone equally, which he exemplifies through defending Tom Robinson, allowing the children to attend the black church with Calpurnia, and telling Scout to not think of the Cunningham’s as poor people, but respectable, hardworking people.
Others in the town of Maycomb have different styles of parenting from Atticus’. The extreme opposite of Atticus is Bob Ewell. Mr. Ewell does not exactly have a parenting style because he lets his children run around to who knows where, and the environment he raises his family in is compared to a dump in the book. Plus, Atticus reveals Mr. Ewell abuses his children, which a parent should never do under any circumstances. Burris Ewell exemplifies his father’s parenting skills through the way he acts and his appearance.
Burris has lice and sees no need to attend school, which is an attitude he has inherited through communicating with his father. Another character with a different way of taking care of a child than Atticus is Aunt Alexandra, and they often clash over ways to raise Scout. Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to act like the typical Southern lady and not act as open-minded as Atticus teaches them. From Jem and Scout’s perspective, Atticus is the answer to their problems, and he’s the best parent a child would ever want to have. They have the highest respect for him and even refer to him by his official name rather than “dad” or “pa” out of a sign of respect. They also show that they love and care for Atticus as much as Atticus care for them.
For example, when Jem destroys Mrs. Dubose’s yard because she insults their father, he destroys the yard out of love for his father because Mrs. Dubose called him a “nigger lover.” Atticus is not your typical parent, especially in the period of time in which To Kill a Mockingbird is based. He loves and cares for his children, in which Jem and Scout show the same affection in return. But Atticus also tells them how things are, no sugar-coating, and treats them like adults, not little kids. Other characters in the story may not approve of the way he is raising and treating his children, but in actuality, he is raising Jem and Scout in a way that they will be able to survive and thrive in society later in life.
- To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee