Discuss Atticus’ parenting style. What is his relationship to his children like? How does he seek to instill conscience in them?
Atticus is a wise and committed father. He wants his children to cultivate the same attitude and a broad outlook in their life. Unlike the other parents, he does not press his kids to call him dad. He lets them call him Atticus like he was a friend. It lets more openness into their relationship. The kids are closer to their father and can discuss with him their thoughts and personal matters. Atticus wants his children to grow up to be noble and kind people. However, he also works hard that their innocent consciences are free of ill feelings. Atticus can see the state of his society and does not want his children to grow the same weaknesses and pretentiousness as he sees in people around him. He is a man of standards and it becomes evident at several points in his life. His children love and respect him. Despite knowing of the consequences that could result from his trying to protect Tom Robinson, he decides to stand against something that is unfair. He teaches Scout how to judge a man and that she should try stepping into their shoes to understand them. He is a good father but not over protective.
He also wants his kids to take lessons from life and to be wise and rational. He works on his children, teaching them and helping them see how things are around them so they can understand them. In this way, he helps them develop their standards and a conscience. He wants that his children can differentiate the good from the bad and stand against the wrong like him if the need be. He is like a counselor to his children. He provides them with noble counsel so that they can make better decisions in their daily life and develop their characters. As Scout mentions in chapter 1, “Our father played with us, read to us, and treated us fine”. He is not an overly strict father but likes to inculcate discipline in his kids, by teaching and playing with them. To ensure that his children do not hide anything from him, he does not use fear. He gives them lessons with love and care. Atticus is playing the role of both a father and a mother and wants that his children develop strong will and character. If he used fear instead of care to discipline his kids, he knew he could not turn them into good people. So, he treats them like equals who have minds of their own.
“Atticus noticed that something was bothering me so he asked me what was wrong. I told him all that had happened in the day and even the part about Miss Caroline saying that he had taught me all wrong so we couldn’t read together anymore”.
His children discuss their small and big matters with him and he also advises Scout over her aversion for her school. However, all this does not mean he is lenient. His children know that when it comes to his standards he will remain firm. So, whatever small and big pranks they do, they do not want their father to learn of them. “If he didn’t get the pants back, Atticus would know that Dill’s strip poker excuse wasn’t true. He didn’t want Atticus to find out what he had done because he knew Atticus would be very disappointed in him” (Chapter 6). Atticus does not want that his children take undue advantage of his love and care. So, he also likes to keep vigilant while letting them have enough space so they can learn to make their own decisions. After Bob Ewell’s death, he ensures that his son is not getting unfair protection from law in his name. He tries to find out the truth of Ewell’s death from the sheriff. When it comes to his moral standards, Atticus cannot buzz and would like his children to follow in his steps. He is doing it all to ensure that his children grow into good and responsible citizens.