Parenting books can be a real punish. But what if they were written somehow less like an instruction manual and more like, I don’t know…something you can relate to? . Mamamia Contributor and children’s author Kate Hunter has just reread To Kill a Mockingbird. She writes:
“This is the book that almost everyone lists as one of their top ten. Lawyers cite Atticus Finch as the reason they chose their profession and more than a few babies have been named Scout and Jem after Harper Lee’s characters.If you haven’t read it since school and you now have kids in your life, read it again. It’s a revelation on so many levels; as an evocation of time and place, as a courtroom drama, and as a parenting guide. I’m sure Harper Lee (who never had kids, but I believe she had an awesome father) never intended this last interpretation, but it’s there on every page.
When I’m troubled by my kids, or worried by something I read in the papers, before I Google the problem, I ask, ‘what would Atticus Finch do?’
Sure it’s a stretch. Our leafy Brisbane suburb has little in common with the simmering hotbed of racial tension that was Alabama in the Great Depression, but kids are kids and wisdom is timeless. Let’s look at a couple of issues – how we might approach them now, and how Atticus dealt with them 75 years ago.
• There’s a reclusive man living in your street. Widely believed to have stabbed his elderly father in the leg with scissors. Probably kills and eats cats.
What we do now: Sadly the police can’t do much unless someone found bloody scissors or saw a cat in a sandwich, so the next step would be to get the media to investigate. Then we’d get a petition together to have the man moved. Possibly via a Facebook page. Only then would children be allowed out unaccompanied.
What Atticus did: He told Scout and Jem to respect the man’s privacy. Also, they were not to refer to him by his nickname, ‘Boo’ but as ‘Mr Arthur’. When the kids tried to lure him from his home and were chased by Arthur’s father with a gun, Atticus sided with the old man.
• The drug-addicted woman down the road verbally abuses your children twice daily. Your son got fed up and damaged her camelia bushes.
What we do now: For a start, we never would have let it get to the camelia-attacking stage. Why on earth were those poor kids not driven to school? It’s not as if their father didn’t own a car. Also, it’s illegal to swear at people publicly. The police should have been called and the woman charged. Counseling would be offered to the children.