"When we have First Penance for our second graders, my pastor insists that we involve the parents in the service and that they stay in the church for the entire time. Parents have complained that they find this 'insensitive' since they do not go to confession anymore, and in some families only one parent is Catholic. How can I change the mind of my pastor or get the parents to understand why they should be there?"
What a teachable moment ... for everyone involved! A good catechetical presentation for the parents should ignite a desire within them to return to the sacrament themselves. Which of us cannot use a good portion of mercy and forgiveness? Assure the parents that priests from other parishes will be available for them, so that they don't feel queasy about confessing to the pastor. Society expects parents to prepare their children educationally, socially, legally and physically to be responsible people. As catechetical leaders, we need to help parents see that the best way to prepare their children spiritually for the future is to set a good example for them regarding the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Parents are never required to go to the sacrament, but are offered the opportunity.