Political Compass #28: It's natural for children to keep secrets.

Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).

And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were.

It would also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked. I might suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation, but seeing for yourself what kind of answers are given by those with a certain score might be more useful than second-guessing the test’s scoring system.

Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them.

The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. To date, the threads are:
Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
#9: Inflation vs. unemployment.
#10: Corporate respect of the environment.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
#12: Sad reflections in branded drinking water.
#13: Land should not be bought and sold.
#14: Many personal fortunes contribute nothing to society.
#15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
#16: Shareholder profit is a company’s only responsibility.
#17: The rich are too highly taxed.
#18: Better healthcare for those who can pay for it.
#19: Penalising businesses which mislead the public.
#20: The freer the market, the freer the people.
#21: Abortion should be illegal.
#22: All authority must be questioned.
#23: An eye for an eye.
#24: Taxpayers should not prop up theatres or museums.
#25: Schools shouldn’t make attendance compulsory.
#26: Different kinds of people should keep to their own.
#27: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.

*Proposition #28: * It’s natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.

SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Agree.

Difficult as some parents might find it to accept this, it is clearly true. There is nothing unnatural about not spilling every thought or detail of one’s life no matter how private, embarrassing or contentious to mum and dad at the first opportunity (indeed, I would find this to be a little weird). You might have their best interests at heart, but they are individual people too. Remember your childhood? Yes, there might have been times when divulging a secret would have been the better option in the long run, indeed it might be a better general principle to minimise risk of abuse or harm, but could you really have been blamed for wanting to keep it?

I’m not sure quite how relevant this is politically - I guess you might show a distinct authoritarian streak if you simply cannot understand why your offspring don’t wish to tell you everything. It might very well be natural for parents to wish that children did not keep secrets from them. But does labelling a little secrecy “unnatural” not seem rather, erm, unnatural?

-7/+3 Agree.

Maybe this question is getting at the idea that people are somehow “perfect” and are only corrupted by society. I don’t buy that. People are what they are, and society is just a reflection of that. Kids need to stake out their own lives and at some point that probably means not sharing every detail with the folks. No big deal.

I really don’t want to answer this until I am home and see how I answered it, because at this point I could go either way. I’m about a (-4, -4), and I’d imagine I probably said, “Agree” but if I didn’t it would be because of the “natural” part. I don’t think it is necessarily natural one way or another; I don’t recall keeping secrets from my parents until I was older and entered the phase where I asserted my independence. In this case, though, it was no longer a secret, and in general I’d suggest I was no longer a child (whatever the law might say). At that point, I wouldn’t be keeping a secret, I would be not volunteering information that wasn’t someone else’s business.

This, however, overlook the other obvious “secret” hiding, which is when a young person has a crush on another and doesn’t want that information public. As a strong believer that there aren’t a great deal of non-learned behavior, I do often wonder where this seemingly natural impulse comes from.

-2, -3.28
Strongly Agree

Because the question is not whether it is good that they keep secrets, or whether parents are not entitled to overrule that secrecy, or WHAT are the secrets. I suppose this could be one of those “gotchas” where some people would react as if the proposition meant that it is right for children to keep secrets from their parents.

But I read it as just reflecting that it’s a normal part of the growing-up process to start drawing lines and boundaries as to their sphere of action as individuals independent of the parent. That this normal process CAN be abused or misused and the parent has a Compelling Interest in not allowing that to happen, is a different matter.

Oh, and while we’re at it, y’know what the English language needs? A word that identifies the “people begat by a given set of parents” that is not the same word as that for “very young humans who must be under adult care at all times”. Because a kindergartener is not the same thing as someone in her freshman year of college, even if they’re both legally minors and dependents.

Agree, anyone who has ever been around children know they try to keep things from parents, teachers, and even their own peers.

Who labels it unnatural?


Anyone ticking Disagree.

I’m kind of waffling on this answer because it’s such a blanket statement.

Do children keep secrets from their parents? Of course they do. Not every kid is naturally talkative, and not all parents encourage open dialogue over the dinner table.

Are some of these secrets better told? Certainly. Child abuse, bullying, drug use by self or acquaintance,etc.

Is it natural? Well, yes and no. It might be a combination of personality, environment, and peer pressure.

Should the parents force their kids to talk? Only if they have good reason to suspect that something horrible is going on. Otherwise, I’d just recommend a regular habit of sharing both ways.

(Incidentally, I grew up as the “good” child, not very talkative, and the parents really didn’t press for more information because they had virtually no idea on what the American public school system was like. I’ve survived, but not without plenty of scars that perhaps could have been less painful if I had told them about what I went through as it happened.)

*Proposition #28: * It’s natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.

Yup. (7.15, -1.25)

I agreed. Though children can be pretty attached to their parents, sometimes they’re going to keep secrets.

[-7.38, -5.03]

Well, we first noticed Loren practicing deception at 6 months or so. She is now 13 months old. I have seen her many times try to prevent us from gaining knowledge of certain details of her activities, for example throwing away and pretending she never had something we told her not to touch or trying to hide it before we get to her. I have found things hidden in places that she would be the only place to put them, not necesarily things we did not want her to have. I don’t see how her wanting to keep secrets from us was taught, except that we do not allow her to have and do everything she wants. I think she came up on her own that if we don’t catch her, then she will be able to escape punishment for for her actions, or worse to her, prevention of her actions. I also thinks that sometimes she hides things for the heck of it.

Peek-a-boo and hiding games are part of normal developement. If anything a child not keeping any secrets at all is unnatural.

Agree. I’ve raised enough kids to know. Even the best kids do it. Darned if I would want someone knowing all of my secrets, either. Darned if I know why this matters on this test.

Come on. You never pooped your pants when you were 3 or 4 yrs old and then tried to hide it from your parents? :slight_smile:

Shodan ticks Agree.

Although, along with BobLibDem, I don’t see the relevance of the question.

I didn’t say Strongly Agree because, as others have said, it might be natural to keep secrets but it isn’t always good. Not always.

FWIW - sometimes my children tell me things that are waaaaaay more than I can deal with.



Not only is it ‘natural’ for children (or more precisely for ALL humans) to keep secrets (and tell lies) but I’ve heard that we aren’t even the only species that does this.

As others have said, its natural but not always a good thing. I suppose I don’t see the point of this question as it relates to a political compass though.


Economic Left/Right: 6.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67

Strongly Agree.

Second that.

Really? Do you have any specific information regarding this?

Heh. I don’t recall. I wasn’t punished often, and in my mind the impulse to conceal is not strictly a natural reaction, but a logical solution to the aversion to negatives like physical punishment, scorn, and so on. Now, is punishing others a natural action, yes, strongly agree, unreservedly. But I’m waffling a little on this other thing.

FWIW, now home, I see I ticked disagree to “It’s natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.”

Well, Loren’s punishments consist of timeouts, about a minute, less when she was younger, and the occasional washing of hands when she was handling something disgusting.

Also she has decieved for the pleasure of doing so. When she was 8 months old, hubby would imitate her to make her laugh. One day while she was in her high chair having lunch, she held her hand up in the air for a while. Hubby say this and imitated. She then moved her arms and he imitated again. After a few rounds of this, she began as if she were going to hold her hand up again and as she did Hubby held up his, but before the action was complete she quickly pulled down her hand and laughed at him holding his hand up in the air still. She had faked him out. If she can deceive for the pleasure of it, why not lie or keep secrets for the heck of it?

From my experience, children must be taught to be honest, not so much to deceive. Hiding and deceiving are survival traits, so why would they be unnatural?

(-3.38, -5.54)
Strongly agree.

Of course it’s natural for children to have secrets. Everyone has secrets. That’s why we need the 4th Amendment.