Although Atticus gave his children more independence than most kids their age, he did put his foot down on occasion. After Jem lost his temper and cut down Mrs. Dubose's camellia's with Scout's baton, Atticus demanded that he immediately return to her home and apologize to her.
"I strongly advise you to go down and have a talk with Mrs. Dubose," said Atticus. "Come straight home afterward."
Jem did not move.
"Go on, I said."
Jem cleaned up the mess and promised to work each Saturday to repair the damage, but the old lady had an additional request: to report to her home each day after school and on Saturdays to read to her.
"Atticus, do I have to?"
"But she wants me to do it for a month."
"Then you'll do it for a month."
The reasoning for the punishment was a mystery to Jem, but he would discover later his important part in ridding Mrs. Dubose of the morphine addiction that had plagued her for so many years.
In the book "To Kill a Mcking Bird, Atticus has two children Scout, a girl, and Jem, her older brother. He instills in his children a sense of responsibility to each other, family, and community. Atticus tells Jem that on Scout's first day of school he will have to walk her. Jem is not happy about the task. However, Jem agrees to walk Scout to school on her first day. This is a task normally done by a child's parents, but Atticus has to work. Scout thinks that Atticus may have given Jem some money to do it because he had been resistant to the idea. Jem is still not very happy at having to show up at school with his sister in tow. He tells her:
"When we slowed to a walk at the edge of the schoolyard, Jem was careful to explain that during school hours I was not to bother him,"(16)