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Let Atticus Finch Teach You How to Be an Awesome Parent

When people speak vaguely about the joys of parenting, I’m guessing they are talking about the pay-off you finally feel when your eldest son’s mind and soul are ready to read To Kill a Mockingbird. (Because it sure ain’t the mess they make getting you breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day.)

My son is reading To Kill A Mockingbird for his 10th grade English class. I’m thrilled and overeager to discuss it with him.

“Yes, mom. My teacher went on and on about how attractive Atticus Finch is.” Well, well, well. Another woman instructing my son about the ways of the world. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I’ve always thought the very best books make us better people for having read them. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the very best books, ever.

Let Atticus Finch teach you how to be awesome, after the jump.

These quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird will give you a lot to think about.

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions. . . but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Great advice for that  parenting issue I’ve been struggling with lately.

“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.”

Ever felt licked before you begin? Begin anyway.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

“The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it–whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

I totes agree and I love that Atticus Finch is my partner as I work on teaching this lesson to my son.

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ‘em.”

Good advice for all those complicated talks that you need to have with your kids.

“Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they’re not attracting attention with it.”

I’m not one for swearing either, Atticus. (It’s part of what makes me so lame.)

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

I care more about my kids learning “this simple trick” more than anything else.

“So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. “

Sometimes people take it out on me too. I need to learn to take it gladly.

Scout figured out what kind of guy her dad was. I’d be honored if my kids had half the respect for me that Scout has for Atticus.

She says, “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

But he’s still just her regular old dad. As parents, don’t we wish we had a Reverend Sykes to nudge our kids into appreciating us? And shouldn’t we strive to deserve it?

“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.”

 

Read more of my writing on Babble.

Read more from Kacy at Every Day I Write the Book.
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