I got the chance to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird over this Christmas-break, and was struck by what an inspiring book it is for parents.
High school readers instantly connect with Scout, a precocious eight year old tom boy, who is trying to make sense of the increasing tension in her Southern town caused by a trial in which her father, Atticus is representing the defendant. But it is Atticus Finch who, for me, became one my new parenting heroes in this re-read.
More than once when Atticus is questioned about the wisdom of taking on a case that was lost from the beginning he claims, "Right, but do you think I could face my children otherwise?" Throughout the novel he expresses deep compulsion to do the right thing, based on who he wants to be for his children.
Along the way, he takes a number of miserable brow beatings from his proper sister for not sweating the small stuff, like appropriate dress and southern manners for Scout. As a parent, I was really feeling for this fellow desperate parent--wanting to do right and be right, and teach his kids the right stuff, but meanwhile on the surface the kids are beating each other up, insulting the cousins, and failing to act normal at the dinner table. Sound familiar?
Here's my favorite quote from this time around:
"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 see it through no matter what."
Would love to hear your thoughts on this novel!