A Note to Parents of Children Celebrating Penance:
Jesus loves children! The New Testament tells us this over and over again. Emphasizing this point with your children, who may be demonstrating reluctance or anxiety or fear about the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation, is a way to help them prepare to experience God's healing grace and love. Jesus invites them to this healing.
Jesus' affection for young children is most clearly seen in the Gospels. Using some of these scriptural stories and examples as part of your children's examination of conscience can help them to understand how much Jesus loves them and wants to be close to them. In Matthew 19:14, for example, Jesus says: "let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." In fact, Jesus knows the importance of spiritual health of children so much that he even said that God reveals Jesus to children more readily than to those who are educated or more experienced in life! (Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21)
So, tell your children that Jesus wants to talk with them. Jesus wants to be a part of their lives. Jesus wants to say to the children, "I love you". And in the sacrament of reconciliation, your children can tell Jesus, "I love you too!"
An Examination of Conscience for Children
Based on the Ten Commandments:
1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
Have I wanted more things, making things or money more important than God?
Have I made an idol of sports or entertainment figures?
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Do I use God's name carelessly?
Do I use God's name in anger?
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.
Did I attend Mass on Sunday?
Did my behavior make it difficult or impossible for my parents to get to church on time?
Have I remembered to pray daily?
4. Honor your father and your mother.
Do I obey my parents?
Have I done my chores without complaining?
Do I do my chores without being reminded?
Have I been disrespectful to teachers, coaches or others in authority?
5. You shall not kill.
Do I keep my patience or do I lose my temper?
Do I hold grudges and try to get even with others?
Have I been unfair to others, especially those who are different than I am?
6. You shall not commit adultery.
Do I show respect for my body?
Do I respect the bodies of others?
Do I avoid harmful things like drugs, tobacco and alcohol?
7. You shall not steal.
Have I taken something that belongs to someone else?
Have I "forgotten" to return something that I borrowed?
Have I used money responsibly?
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do I play fairly or do I ever cheat at school or games?
Have I been honest or have I lied?
Have I hurt someone by what I have said or done?
Have I copied someone else's homework?
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
Have I been jealous of the friends that someone else has?
Have I tried to be kind to others?
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
Have I been jealous of the things that my friends have?
Have I nagged my parents into buying things because my friends have them?
Have I helped others when they needed help?
Taken from "Seven Frequently Asked Questions About Children and the Sacrament of Reconciliation", written for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Kathleen D. Beuscher, 2010.