What are the community of Maycomb's views on child-rearing in "To Kill a Mockingbird"?What do they believe is the "proper" way of raising children?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a nutshell, "Children are to be seen, not heard." Consider Miss Caroline's reaction when Scout tried to explain Walter Cunningham's problem over lunch money or Aunt Alexandra's consternation at how her brother gave his children too much liberty at home and around the neighbourhood. Another example -  Mr. Radley's promise to keep his son "out of sight, out of mind," a resolution he really did live up to.

Because of their particular family situation, the Finch children are able to step beyond the invisible boundaries usually set for "good children." They breach rules when they visit Cal's church and witness Tom Robinson's trial from the courthouse balcony. Dill also broadens their horizons since he comes from elsewhere and is evidently brought up in more laxist way. Even Boo appreciates their naughty pranks about his house and rewards them with presents placed in the tree hole.

However, the main reason for this difference is Atticus himself. He takes great pains to listen to his children and chides his brother when he punishes Scout without first hearing her side of the story. Both Jem and Scout are more affirmative than the average child because Atticus has encouraged them "to speak out."

A touching scene is when Scout stops Mr Cunningham dead in his tracks when she talks to him about his son Walter and his problems with "entailment." Unwittingly, she breaks up the gang by speaking to Mr Cunningham in a personal way. He is disarmed by "the little lady" and goes home.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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