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Atticus makes do as well as he can as a single parent in To Kill a Mockingbird. His honest, sincere approach to rearing his children have made him one of the most admired fathers in American Literature. Without a female influence in the family, he is sensible enough to employ Calpurnia, and disregard his sister's advice to fire her. Calpurnia offers the children a firm feminine side, and they gain respect for the African-American community of Maycomb in the process. Atticus teaches his children the importance of education (even though he did not go to school himself); of the need for tolerance when dealing with other people; and that a humble and peaceful nature is preferable to physical violence. He teaches Scout not to use the "N" word, and teaches Jem about true courage. His humility is never more evident than when the children discover that he was once the "deadest shot" in the county, but that he never bragged about it. Above all, he teaches by example, and Jem and Scout bear witness to the good aspects of their father even when they think he is "feeble."
Atticus was an effective parent because he lead by example. Where many parents can "tell" their children how to behave and to treat others equally, Atticus "practiced what he preached." He was a kind and giving man, who encouraged his children to view human beings equally and to treat them as such. Good parenting is also portrayed in Atticus's dedication to his children as a single parent. During a time period where the parenting often fell to either the mother or to a member of hired help, Atticus had as active a role as possible in the raising of his children. His career dominated his time (by necessity), but where he was able, he gave of himself and his time freely and unconditionally to his children.
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