Examination of Conscience for Tired Parents

The charity which burned in the household at Nazareth
should be an inspiration for every family. All the Christian
virtues should flourish in the family, unity should thrive, and
the example of its virtuous living should shine brightly.

Pope St. John XXIII, encyclical Ad Petri cathedram (June 29, 1959),
no. 57.

The following article is excerpted from “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven.” This is available for your personal use, but please do not distribute it without including the attribution available at the end. Remember: Thou shalt not steal! May God richly bless you!

Sainthood is the goal for our family, and along the way, we will inevitably slip up. Thank God for the gifts of forgiveness and absolution!

An examination of conscience is a wonderful tool for preparing for the sacrament of Confession. It can also be used on a daily or weekly basis to examine our faults and failings and try to do better. The intent is not to be overly scrupulous or disheartened, but we’ve seen in our own lives that there are certain habitual sins that affect our family directly.

We compiled this examination of conscience for parents based on the Ten Commandments. It is meant not to cover all the potential sins parents could commit but to offer a starting point for rooting out vices and growing in virtue for the sake of sanctifying the family.

  1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
    • Do I show my children that i put God first in my life?
    • Have I given the impression that other things are more important than prayer, Mass, etc.?
    • Do I try to make good use of my time, so we have time for individual and family prayer?
    • Have I modeled for my children an unhealthy attachment to sports, media consumption, recreation, or other worldly activities?
  2. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
    • Have I used God’s Name in vain?
    • Do I model clean language for my children? Do I avoid swearing and vulgarity?
    • Have I listened to vulgar or impure music or watched impure movies or TV shows?
    • Do I glorify suggestive language or humor? Do my children hear me tell dirty jokes?
  3. Keep the Sabbath holy.
    • What have I done to set aside Sunday as the Lord’s Day, making God the center of our family’s day?
    • do I attempt to plan ahead so that on Sunday mornings, we can have minimal chaos, get to Mass early, and have time to pray before Mass begins?
    • Have I arranged our schedule so as to avoid doing unnecessary labor on Sunday?
    • Have I arranged our schedule so as to avoid making others do unnecessary labor on Sunday?
  4. Honor thy father and thy mother.
    • In what ways do I show our children that I honor my parents?
    • Have I spoken kindly about my parents, especially in front of our children?
    • Am I impatient with my parents, especially in how they interact with our children?
    • Have I been willing to assist our parents with their needs, particularly as they grow older?
  5. Thou shalt not kill.
    • Do I focus on promoting a culture of life in our home, respecting life from the moment of conception to natural death?
    • Do our children see me promoting change in a peaceful way, never suggesting or excusing violence?
    • Are violent video games and movies allowed in our home? What about music with aggressive lyrics?
    • Have I intentionally done things to abuse my body, such as drinking in excess, smoking, using illicit drugs, performing unsafe recreational activities, binging on overindulgent foods? Have I glorified these behaviors?
  6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
    • Have I kept our home free from pornography, nudity, promiscuity, and illicit media?
    • Do I model modesty in clothing and behavior for our children?
    • What have I done to encourage modesty, chastity, and purity in our children (in age-appropriate ways)?
    • Am I using any form of contraception, even though it is forbidden?
  7. Thou shalt not steal.
    • Am I modeling honesty for our children when it comes to financial transactions?
    • Have our children seen me take what isn’t ours or lie to save or make money?
    • Have I ever lied on our taxes or to our insurance companies or committed any type of fraud?
    • Do I “borrow” things from family or friends with no intention of returning them?
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
    • Do I lie in front of my kids, even if they’re “small” lies?
    • Am I modeling integrity, or do I present different versions of myself in front of my children, depending on who is around?
    • Have I lied to or intentionally withheld information from my spouse?
    • Do I gossip, slander, or detract?
  9. (9 and 10 together) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife or goods.
    • Do my spouse and I foster an attitude of contentment, or are we constantly trying to “keep up with the Joneses”?
    • Have I acted selfishly or greedily in front of our children?
    • Do my children see me prioritizing material goods or superficial relationships?
    • Have I ever made decisions about appearances or relationships based on what others would think of us?

Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but a reminder of the ways parents frequently fall short in their duty to love God first and love their neighbor as themselves. Please examine your conscience regularly, encourage your spouse and children to do the same, and do not miss the opportunity to go to confession REGULARLY (at least once per month) so that you might receive the graces to be holy in your state in life.

“If you examine yourself honestly, you’ll be able to say, ‘Well,
I’m unkind. Well, I’m uncharitable. I’m caustic. I’m
critical. I’m jealous. I’m without compassion.’ All of these
things you can’t get to Heaven with. It’s very simple to know
and to judge yourself before you die.”

Mother Mary Angelica, PCPA

-Written by David and Debbie Cowden, and published in “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven,” (Copyright David and Debbie Cowden, EWTN Publishing 2022), available at ewtnRC.com. Used here with permission.


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