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Family Values and Morals in Tkam Essay

Whatever happened to family values? Good old fashioned honesty, respect, caring and commitment? Today, nearly half of the families in Australia have been shattered by divorce, children are home alone while single parents work, crime is commonplace and truth is relative. Has today’s society allowed us to dictate our values and standards in our own home? In To Kill a Mockingbird, family is destiny.

To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of lawyer Atticus Finch, who defends a black man accused of raping and beating a white woman but even through this hard time still has the ability to see past the ill in people and teaches his children the same qualities. The novel explores the moral nature of human beings and demonstrates how families have a strong influence on the development of a person’s character. A recent study from Psychology Today has shown that in the last decade people put much more emphasis on family values compared to today.

It seems Atticus Finch had a different parenting style than those of this era. Atticus is certainly the most exemplary father. As a widower in the 1930s, he could have sent his children off to a distant relative, but instead was absolutely devoted to them. Atticus is a great role model to his children as he acts of his own words. They look up to him not only as a father, but a teacher and friend. He is kind, protective and incredibly patient with Jem and Scout.

Atticus was firm but fair and always looking for an opportunity to expand his children’s empathy, to impart a bit of wisdom and help them become good people – which he did undoubtedly. Atticus is affectionate with his children; available to spend time reading and there ready for a hug when they need comfort; something many parents in today’s society don’t have time for or can’t be bothered with. Research from the Scottish Widows Priorities of Life index reveals that for many families, spending quality time with their children isn’t at the top of their priorities list.

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Busy working lives and hectic schedules mean parents are increasingly running out of time to spend with their children. Family just doesn’t come first. It used to be generally accepted that the parents were the only authority figure in the children’s lives and were responsible for their character and behaviour. This kind of home life no longer exists today, when both parents believe they need to work 12hr shifts every day in order to provide everyone with the necessities of life. The children are left to fend for themselves or spend more time day-care centres than with their own parents.

This family disconnection only leaves society and the media accountable for raising the children. In the 1930s, family dinners were an occasion to sit down with family members, enjoy a home-cooked meal and discuss life. Children were expected to be at the dinner at a certain time and to eat what was in front of them. It was a time of the day when the rest of the world stopped and the focus was entirely on the family. Good morals and values relevant to the happenings of the day were discussed and taught to children at this time.

But dining at the table with family lost its priority as dinner in front of the television became routine. Nowadays, society is completely consumed by technology every minute of the day. Whether subliminal or obvious, morals and values are being taught to today’s generation through the media. Compared to the 1930s, modern society does not value family nearly half as much, due to the replacement of time spent with family to time spent using media and technology. As television becomes more degrading and corrupt throughout the years, so are the morals and values they teach.

This generation has grown up completely accepting of what they learn in the media because there is nothing to contest it. Parents and family members don’t have time to teach such trivialities as pride and self-respect. Furthermore, it seems that the parents don’t want to parent. They want schools and everyone else to do it for them. Kids aren’t taught right from wrong or the consequences to their own actions. Atticus on the other hand, is a great parent. He teaches his children valuable life lessons.

He explains the importance of treating all people with respect and equality, to accept others no matter how they look or act. This is important for the children living in a town full of social prejudice – something we can still relate to today. He teaches them tolerance and compassion, courage and bravery, and to stand up for what they believe in regardless of what everyone else thinks. These are the qualities that the children today’s society need to be exposed to in order to become better people, in order for us to become a better society as a whole.

To Kill a Mockingbird should definitely be included in the Blackwater Town Library and there’s one main reason for this – it’s relevant. It has the ability to draw sympathy out of readers as much today as it did when Harper Lee wrote it in 1960. As a teenager living in today’s society, reading the novel made me realise how much our morals and values have changed over many years. It shows that family is endless through good times and bad and that the possibility of love between parent and child is everlasting and ever-growing – things we take for granted today.

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