What Makes Atticus a Good Father? (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)



Being a good parent is someone who is able to set a good example and able to be the person that the child looks up to. Atticus Finch is a great example of what a good parent is. Atticus shows his greatness as a father figure in, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, by being an excellent role model that shares his trust, honesty, care, and wisdom with his family. He allows his kids to have freedom while still being able to monitor them. He supplies them with shelter, food, and a good education. Atticus is very dedicated to equality, unlike the many people in Maycomb. He does not follow the crowd; he does what he thinks is right and teaches Jem and Scout the same. Atticus proves he is a good father by being a great influence on his children, by teaching them many important lessons. 

There are many times that Atticus has given Jem or Scout a valuable lesson. For example, when Jem read to Mrs. Dubose as a punishment for his actions it also worked as a distraction from her morphine addiction. She wanted to die free from her addiction, and that is what she did, with the help of everyone around her. Jem and Scout learned an important lesson from Mrs. Doubse’s death. Atticus explains, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do” (Lee 149). Atticus wanted Jem and Scout to learn the real meaning of courage. He taught them that courage does not mean needing a gun to win, it means doing the right thing even though you have a high chance of losing. Ann Cinzar states an excellent point in, Why It’s So Hard to Let My Kids Fail, by proving it is okay to fail sometimes and it is a part of growing up. Ann explains, “If we want to raise resourceful and successful children, we need to give them opportunities to fail and learn from those failures. We can't save them from every obstacle or hardship they encounter'' (Cinzar). Atticus allows his kids to fail but still has his children face consequences if they make a mistake. He wants Scout and Jem to fail sometimes, instead of taking the easy way out and just avoiding the mistake that could happen. This will help them later on in life and will allow them to learn better decisions as they grow.

Atticus proves he is an excellent father figure numerous times throughout the book, for example, he never hits his kids for an act of punishment. Atticus does not discipline his kids by acting physically, he disciplines them properly by having a well-mannered conversation about their actions. When Jem and Scout are at Mr. Radley’s house, attempting to obtain Jem’s pants back, Jem is worried he will get beat when he returns home. Jem worriedly explains,“ ‘Atticus ain’t ever whipped me since I can remember. I wanta keep it that way’ “ (Lee 75). Jem knows Atticus would not whip him, but this time he is worried because he had gone behind Atticus’ back and went to the Radley house. Atticus is not a violent father, instead, he talks to his kids about what they have done wrong. Jem and Scout are not scared that they will be physically abused by Atticus, but they are scared about disappointing Atticus when they know what they did was wrong. But in the end, they talk it out, and Atticus teaches Jem and Scout an important lesson. Atticus has a great relationship with both of his kids, but many parents are not like Atticus. Some are not open, some are abusive, and some do not listen. If you do not have a good relationship with your kid, they do not trust you enough to talk about important issues. Hanna Rosin explains in, "The Overprotected Kid", "When they are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience” (Qtd. in Rosin). Yes, children should receive consequences for their actions in a respectful way, not in an abusive way. Parents need to be more understanding and learn that children make mistakes. Instead of yelling in their face or hitting them they should sit down and have a polite conversation about what happened. Parents need to be open, trusting, and understanding like Atticus. Everyone makes mistakes and if your child accidentally does something wrong they will learn from it if you sit down and talk about how it was wrong. Children will listen more if you talk respectfully and listen to what they are saying.

Regardless of Attcius’ fair parenting, many may argue that he is not within the standards of being a good father. At one point in the book, Jem and Scout are trying to make Boo feel welcomed in Maycomb by inviting him out of his home. Atticus does not like the idea and thinks they are trying to invade someone's privacy and states, “Lastly, we were to stay away from that house until we were invited there” (Lee 65). Atticus assumes Jem and Scout are invading Boo’s privacy and being nosy when they were actually just trying to be compassionate towards Boo. Before Jem and Scout could explain to him why they were really at Mr. Radley's, Atticus interrupts and yells at them for their actions. Atticus did not listen to Jem and Scout’s reasoning, instead, he goes straight to punishing them which shows that he is not a good father towards his children because he did not listen to what his kids had to say.

Overall, Atticus is a great father to Scout and Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird. Though, a few times he questions their actions and shouts at them. If Jem and Scout mess up, Atticus tries to not yell but instead teaches them a lesson that will help them in the future. He proves he is a good father by disciplining them properly by squeezing beneficial and important lessons into their heads, without being physical. Atticus does anything he can to teach Jem and Scout how to be considerate of others’ situations and how to respect others. Teaching his kids to be caring and respectful also proves why Atticus is a good father, especially the fact they live in an older generation when parents usually are not as understanding.