Are Secrets Good?
The idea of keeping secrets can seem philosophical and complex. But in reality, the concept is very concrete. For centuries, secrets have become synonymous with mystery, intrigue and sometimes danger. And the ability to keep them conjures up ideas of confidence and trust. And when it comes to teaching our kids about secrets, the clear question is this: Are secrets good?
The Secret about Secrets
As parents, we want our children to be able to tell us anything. We should make them feel completely safe in doing so. But even if you have a “no secrets” policy in your home, your children many still be faced with the secrets of their friends. And one day your child may be put into the position of confidant.
The Rule of Right
Trustworthiness is an important attribute. When someone tells you a secret, it is very likely that they consider you to be trustworthy and in turn, they believe that you will uphold that trust. Developing these concepts of honor and nobility are important as we grow. However, not all secrets can be safely kept. This is where the rule of right comes into play. If not telling the secret means that someone is or will be in danger, then telling the secret is the right thing to do.
These types of “scary secrets” are ones that place someone in danger or causes them to be hurt. these secrets should be told to an adult such as a parent or teacher. Knowing who to tell is just as important as knowing when to tell. This way, appropriate action can be taken. Just as teachers have a duty to report abuse, we as human beings each have a personal responsibility to help others and do what is right.
When Keeping a Secret Builds Character
Sometimes, secrets can be good. Not all secrets are about something bad. And this is important for your child to understand as well. For example, it may be a secret that your child’s big sister is getting a new bike as a holiday gift. Now, if your child knows about this secret and tells his or her sister about it, the special moment of surprise will be spoiled. And while it may be hard for a child to keep a fun secret such as a new bike, you child will feel so good that they did when they see their sibling’s genuine surprise and excitement over that new bike. In this way, keeping a secret helps to foster trustworthiness.
Measuring Secrets: Comfortable Confidence?
Each family will have their own conversations about secrets. Hopefully, what is written here will provide some conversation starters or perhaps provide clearer explanations about the weight of secrets and how to measure them. There are secrets that must be told and there are some secrets that will not be harmful if kept. The ability to differentiate between the two types of secrets is essential. It is also important to acknowledge that our “gut” feeling or intuition often gives us some insight. If your child does not feel comfortable about the confidence they have been entrusted with by a friend or peer, then let them know that they can come to you for guidance. Very often, an adult decision is too difficult for a child to make. And if you child feels like telling you about their friend’s secret is breaking confidence, then ask them indirect questions about the characteristics of the secret; and very likely, you will be able to determine if it is a secret that must be told. In the big picture of life, there’s no secret to perfect parenting. But keep an open channel of mutual trust and communication with your kids. And raise them to do what is right.