Atticus is certainly a progressive parent, even by todays standards. He teaches kids by example as well as by letting them experience both the happiness of life and the difficulties. Despite his sister's disapproval, Atticus explains what rape means to his sister and he does, in the end, let Scout and Jem attend the trial. His initial hesitance comes not only because of the lurid details that would come out but also the heartbreaking conduct the town, their friends and neighbours. Atticus knows his kids will understand the darkness and ignorance of people sooner or later, he was just hesitant to have all of it come at them in one experience.