Atticus Finch attempted to teach and influence his children by his own actions in To Kill a Mockingbird. Although the Finch family was certainly unusual for the times--Atticus brought up his children as a single parent who apparently had no intention of getting remarried, and he gave his children much more freedom than most parents would--Atticus' guidance was admirable and heartfelt. He apparently succeeded in his goals, since Jem and Scout absorbed the virtues of their father and became admirable in their own rights. There are many examples of fatherly advice meant to lead Jem and Scout down the road to adulthood.
- Atticus is a civilized man living in the Deep South's not entirely civilized world. "If you're father's anything, he's civilized in his heart," Miss Maudie tells the children.
- Atticus remains a gentleman at all times, and Jem emulates this trait. "Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!" Jem tells Scout.
- Atticus is sometimes painfully honest, and it rubs off on the kids. "I just hope Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town. I hope they trust me enough..."
- Atticus teaches his children to be kind. "It'd sort of be like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?" Scout asks after agreeing with her father that Sheriff Tate was right not to charge Boo Radley with Bob Ewell's death.
- Atticus teaches his children to better understand others by climbing "into his skin and walk around in it." Scout discovers this suggestion works, and she eventually realizes that her initial impressions of Miss Caroline, Boo Radley and Stoner's Boy are wrong. "Atticus, he was real nice," Scout tells Atticus about Stoner's Boy. "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."