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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What makes Atticus a good example of good parenting in To Kill a Mockingbird? Explain what he does right with the children.

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Above all else, Atticus sets an example for his children through his own actions and beliefs. Although he is the lone parent in the household and he is often out of town, he always has time to answer any important questions his children may ask of him. He reads nightly with Scout and plays touch football with Jem. They attend church together and Atticus provides plenty of reading material for his kids, knowing they both love to read and the importance of doing so. He is smart enough to realize that Calpurnia is needed to provide guidance for the children while he is away, and they all love her enough to keep her around in spite of Alexandra's protests. But most importantly, Atticus teaches by example. He is Maycomb's legislative representative in Montgomery, and the children recognize that he is the man that people in Maycomb come to when something important needs to be accomplished. He shows a love of all men and women--black or white--and he rarely has a bad word to say about anyone. He teaches Scout that fighting will not solve problems, and that controlling her temper is part of growing up--and becoming a lady. Both of the children want to become lawyers themselves so they can follow in their father's footsteps. We know that the children follow his advice even as adults, since they both seek him out to settle a dispute that is mentioned on the first page of the novel.

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How does the book To Kill a Mockingbird convey that Atticus is a good parent?

The book shows that Atticus is good parent in a number of ways. 

First, we should point out that Atticus is a single parent. His wife passed away. In light of this, we can say that Atticus' job as a parent is not easy. 

Second, Atticus spends a lot of time with his children. We can see this through many incidental details. For example, Scout knows how to read when her classmates are just learning to read. Scout learned how to read by reading with Atticus every night. 

Third, when Scout gets in trouble at school by Miss Caroline, Atticus does not reprimand her. In fact, he tries to make Scout understand the importance of school and she sees it. Here is a wise compromise that Atticus makes with Scout. 

“If you’ll concede the necessity of going to school, we’ll go on reading every night just as we always have. Is it a bargain?”

Lastly, Atticus is always trying to teach his children lessons about life. So, for instance, Atticus has Jem read to Mrs. Dubose. Atticus wants to teach Jem about courage. Here is what Atticus says:

I wanted you to see something about her—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.

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