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Megan Cottam reflects on her own sins as she prepares her child for First Reconciliation. Download and print this examination of conscience.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation has long been one of my favorite practices of the Catholic faith. The fruit borne from raw, honest reflection and conversation with wonderful priests has been life changing. There is nothing quite as powerful as exposing the weakest parts of you and hearing in return: “You are forgiven. God loves you.”

However, as I approach the sacrament from the identity of parent and primary catechist of my children, I have found the need for pause and renewal in how I examine my conscience and discuss the sacrament in my family life. It is time to dig deeper than confessing the typical lines of “I need to be more patient with my children” and address some of the occasions of sin that come with parenthood that prevent me from forming my family in the faith.

Our children are watching; can we be honest about where we struggle? If we can find the grace to do so, our family can as well. Please join me as we all strive to live into the wonderful vocation of motherhood as God fully intended.


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Our children are watching; can we be honest about where we struggle? If we can find the grace to do so, our family can as well. #catholicmom


An Examination of Conscience for Parents

  1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange Gods before Me.
  • Have I neglected to teach my children about the life and teachings of Jesus?
  • Have I told my children how important God is in my life and theirs?
  • Have I prioritized societal expectations, or am I open to God’s will for my child’s life?


  1. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  • Do I model positive language with my children when it comes to God and the Church?
  • Do I show in my words, actions, and decision-making that the lessons of the Church have true implications for my life and the life of my family?


  1. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  • Do we have special family traditions and intentional time spent together?
  • Have I neglected to bring my children with me to Mass?
  • Have I allowed our family to schedule events and appointments over Mass?




  1. Honor your father and your mother.
  • Do I speak well of extended family members and in-laws in front of my children?
  • Do I model taking care of elder relatives?


  1. You shall not kill.
  • Have I harbored hatred for another?
  • Have I cheered on punishments for others in front of my children?
  • As a family, are we open to making time and space for those in need in our community?


  1. You shall not commit adultery.
  • Have I modeled modesty and personal boundaries for my children?
  • Have I allowed my children to be exposed to sexual ethics that do not align with Church teachings (celebrity magazines, shows, discussions)?
  • Do I consume media myself (shows, literature, music) without care so that my children may overhear and accidentally be exposed to material inappropriate to their age or to the Christian faith?


  1. You shall not steal.
  • Have I attempted to gain from someone else unfairly in front of my children?
  • Have I modeled integrity, hard work, and gratitude for all I receive?
  • Have I defamed a neighbor or family member for something they earned?
  • Have I used money, technology, or constant activity as a substitute for family time?




  1. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • Have I gossiped or spoken poorly about someone else to, or in front of, my children?
  • Have I allowed my children to talk about their friends without intervening?
  • Have I helped my children to find empathy for others in hard situations?


  1. You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.
  • Have I modeled healthy relationships with my child?
  • Have I taught and modeled respect and boundaries of the opposite sex?
  • Do I work with my spouse to model marriage as a joyful relationship and life-giving vocation?


  1. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
  • Have I modeled greed with my children, or have I modeled an understanding of necessity and luxury?
  • Have I placed rewards and treats above quality family time?
  • Do I compare our family's possessions to what other families have or don’t have?
  • Do our financial choices as a family model our faith values?


Download and print this examination of conscience



Copyright 2022 Megan Cottam
Images: Canva