The Parenting Style of Atticus Finch

A Parenting Role Model

When it comes to parenting, Atticus Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird certainly sets a standard. Though always a loving and kind father, Atticus’ unique approach to parenting warrants further discussion.

Atticus' Parenting Style
Atticus and Scout

Because of his tolerant nature and his respect of all human beings, he treats his children as equals. He is in fact a single parent, facing all the troubles and challenges that today’s single parents must deal with. Perhaps it is this extra obstacle that contributes to our admiration of Atticus.

Atticus allows his daughter Scout to be herself, and does not pressure her to be more feminine. Maybe this is because she is so young, and he does not see the point of enforcing a stereotype on a six year old. He may think that, with the passing of time, she will move gracefully into adolescence and be more willing to sample the trappings of the female world. Comparatively, with his son Jem, he subtly instills in him the importance of respect and patience. Atticus encourages Jem to take care of his sister, ensuring that he matures far beyond his age.

The Parenting Style of Atticus Finch

Parents can contribute to the positive development and growth of their children in many ways, serving as continuously evolving role models. Leading by example, they have daily interactions both within and outside of the family unit, and thus children are exposed to what is right and wrong. More importantly, with correct direction, children gain an insight into the world around them and gain skills that allow them to cope with adversity and become worthwhile members of society.

Atticus Finch does exactly this.

Atticus is unwaveringly moral, approaching life with a devotion to fairness and the ethical treatment of all mankind. Yet he is also fallible. He makes mistakes and must deal with external elements that are beyond his control. Described as a “hands-off” father, Atticus is subjected to criticism for seemingly letting his children run free, and giving them too much independence.

Though some of the townsfolk question his parenting style, we are privy to the father-child conversations that are held behind closed doors, and we know and trust that his solid moral compass informs his decisions.

Parenting Through the Tempest

Atticus allows Scout and Jem to witness the turbulent trial, instead of sheltering them from the happenings in the courtroom. He wants them to see exactly how people think about and behave towards Tom Robinson’s obviously deceitful accusers.

He exposes them to real life. This decision is frowned upon by some, who see it as unwarranted, even harmful. But by doing this, Atticus seeks to instill conscience by showing his children the world is not always a fair place, and that you must imagine yourself in another’s skin before you can even begin to understand or judge them.

Throughout the novel, it is Atticus’ voice of compassion and his belief that all people need to be treated equally that remains a constant. A person’s inner sense of right and wrong is paramount in his eyes and he seeks to impart this to his offspring through his parenting. His own strong convictions guide his children though some of life’s more confusing and confronting moments.

His is not one of false morality, or morality for show. His attitude and actions remain consistent with his views, and, because his children see this, his morality and sincerity are slowly instilled in them.

To this day, Atticus Finch stands as one of the literary world’s most admired and formidable father figures.

Who is your favorite fictional father figure? Let us know!


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