Throughout Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, it seems as if Atticus Finch is a failure as both a parent and a lawyer. However, somebody with a good understanding of the novel will realise that Atticus is in fact a terrific lawyer and a superb father. However, like all people, Atticus has his flaws.
Throughout Scout and Jem’s childhoods, their father Atticus was always there for them. Atticus always made sure he made time to talk to his children and teach them valuable life skills. Atticus taught both his children to read before they began schooling. Although he was ridiculed for it by Scout’s teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher, who told Scout “Your father does not know how to teach (page 28)”, by teaching Scout to read he gave her an early advantage over all of her classmates and started her off in the best position possible to succeed in life.
Atticus Finch also taught his children many valuable life lessons and views of life throughout the course of the novel. Due to the things Atticus said, Jem and Scout developed many qualities such as empathy and equality. Very few of the adults in Maycomb at the time had these qualities and perhaps if they had these qualities Tom Robinson would not have been wrongly convicted. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.(Page 33)” This piece of advice by Atticus changed Scout’s entire perspective of life. She began to climb into other people’s skin, which made her understand the problems other people face in life. She learned not to judge people because of the way they act, the family they come from or their skin colour. Not many other fathers at the time or even now could influence their child in such a positive way.
Atticus had a quite different style of parenting than most parents in the 1930’s. He believed in giving his children freedom to walk around town and talk to whomever they wanted to without his supervision. Because of this, they were able to learn from experience rather than just school alone. This also showed that Atticus treated his children as equals rather than just taking the role of the hierarchy. Another thing he did that allowed Jem and Scout to be treated as equals was allow them to call him by his first name which was very uncommon. Atticus never beat or hit is children even though it was legal and a regular thing for parents to do back then, Atticus instead resorted to alternative, non-violent, punishments when his kids misbehaved such as making Jem read to Mrs Dubois after Jem wrecked her flowers.
A potential flaw Atticus had as a parent was that he over trusted devious people and was perhaps a little careless and under cautious. The best example of this was when he allowed Jem and Scout to go to the Halloween party alone. Even though Atticus thought Bob Ewell was not a threat, he still should have attended the party with the children just to be safe or even send them...