I can't believe that this blog -- about fathers, fatherhood, and especially now, for me, fathering alone -- has never ever considered Atticus Finch. A widowed man who is a calm influence, letting his kids kick up a joyful, curious swirl around him. A man who instructs not by lecture but by example. A man who blesses his children with both his involvement as well as his absence. A man whose character is revealed before his children's eyes over three summers in Maycomb, Alabama.
Here is my favorite scene of revelation, as portrayed in the Oscar winning 1962 movie:
So although Harper Lee's story is widely recognized as a meditation on American race relations, for me it is also about how to be a father (and, to a lesser extent, how to be a lawyer). As part of my Canon, I keep a First Edition Library reproduction in my office, but I never refer to it. It is only a touchstone, but like my law partner once said, it's a story he never wanted to end. Fathering is a work in progress, and if one can keep examples like Atticus Finch in one's sights - even when one's glasses slip every now and then - the target will be hit often enough.