Number Seven just last night came to me saying she didn't know what she'd give up for Lent. She was thinking "fruity candy"... aahh... the Lenten technicalities begin all over again. I told her that the idea behind giving up something good, an act of Life-Giving love, the idea of a sacrifice, is for our own spiritual growth. That when she is older and more mature she will not find it difficult to pass on something good that she isn't able to have. That gave her food for thought. I also told her it should be something realistic and doable, and not something that will make life miserable and complicated especially for others around her. And furthermore, that no complaints are allowed. Once we whine and complain about it, the whole idea of offering it as a sacrifice is gone.
The Church in her infinite wisdom does not require young children to fast or abstain. Children are supposed to learn in the love within the family the idea of penance and sacrifice, and that is so individual to each family. I think it is so easy to "overdo" and create in them a distaste for sacrifice as opposed to showing the joy that stems from any sacrificial act of Love. While some children show exemplary maturity early on on offering joyful sacrifices in Lent (I've had some of these), others resist this concept willingly until they are old enough to be told by Mother Church that they *must* do it (I have some of these as well). Thank God for the Church!
In any event, I am all for telling them to create small exceptions, especially when it is to accept the generosity of a friend who is giving a small gift, and in honor of great Saint Valentine to boot!