Awareness of reconciliation is a gradual development, and the rate of moral, psychological and religious development of children differs from child to child.
Parents should be involved in the preparation of children for this sacrament. Catechesis for the sacrament of reconciliation is to precede First Communion and must be kept distinct by a clear and unhurried separation. This is to be done so that, before receiving First Communion, the child will be familiar with the revised rite of reconciliation and will be at ease with the reception of the sacrament. Because continuing, lifelong conversion is part of what it means to grow in faith, catechesis for the sacrament of reconciliation is on-going.
The catechesis genuinely provides for the child’s right to go to confession. The teaching is taught in a simple way and in keeping with what is required for the first confession of young children, namely:
ability to distinguish between right and wrong;
awareness of need for forgiveness;
trust in Jesus’ forgiving love;
ability to express sorrow.
ROLE OF THE PARENTS
Children discover something of God’s love and forgiveness as they experience the love and forgiveness of parents and family. Parents have an on-going responsibility to deepen the faith-life of all family members so that spiritual growth takes place in each individual and in the family community as a whole. An attitude of reconciliation should be consciously developed as part of this faith-life. Parents are preparing their children for penance from earliest childhood through their attitudes of love and forgiveness. This reconciling faith-life should also extend outward beyond the family.
It is important, therefore, that advantage be taken of the opportunities provided by the parish for growth in understanding and clarification of attitudes regarding conscience formation, sin, conversion, reconciliation, gospel and personal values. In this way, with the assistance of their priest and catechists, parents will be equipped to make an informed judgement as to the readiness of the child.