My son, who is currently 9 years of age, tells me that life is absolutely meaningless and that "we're all here to waste time".
When he first told me this, I felt both angry and depressed.
And no, this is not because I am religious. I am an atheist, but I think his outlook on life is detrimental.
From an even younger age, teachers and I myself have observed that he is very intelligent, mature and highly interested in mathematics and physics since an early age.
One thing that I think is leading him to believe that life is meaningless is because he's very anti-social and often teachers tell me that he never talks in class and remains aloof (in his own world).
Some of his behavioral attributes include:
- Was a late talker - didn't talk til he was 6.
- He spends most of his time alone outside in a forest and the only time I speak with him is when he comes for dinner, breakfast and lunch.
- When he's home, he rarely talks to me other than on eating occasions.
- I have been since consequently told that he is "different in a strange way" by many people.
Somebody suggested that I give him the internet so he could search around, make friends and other things. He only used it three times and told me that "It's a great place to attain knowledge but other than that, it's horrible."
After this, I consulted a teacher from his school and she told me that I should sit down and talk with him.
And this is when he told me that life is meaningless. He said,
"Look. I know what you are trying to do. I know that you're worried about me. I know that you've been talking to a lot of people about my behaviour. But why do you want me to live my life the way others want? Life, by it's nature, is absolutely meaningless. Imagine yourself to suddenly wake up in a room, knowing of nothing, except the fact that you'll die within the next two hours. Would you attach importance to anything you would do during this period? Ofcourse not! All I know is that I am alive, a son of yours, on a beautiful diverse planet somewhere in the cosmos, and all I am interested is in knowing why did we acquire existence. This may be impossible, but I'd rather pursue the great impossible than spend my life living accordingly to the sentiments of people!"
He has no friends and nobody that even knows him properly. I feel that he'll go on to acquire mental illnesses as he ages, I don't know why but I don't feel good. Is there anyway to convince my son not to adopt this nihilistic outlook on life?
After reading all of the answers, I decided to convince him to visit a psychologist to be introduced to a society bearing children with "interests similar to his" but he wholeheartedly rejected this and is instead urging for a visit to MIT and spend a hour with some people named "string theorists". He is saying that he has "formulated five logical alterations of general relativity" but there is a very critical mathematical inconsistency in the fourth. He told me that, "String theory is a lovely marriage of the quantum and macro worlds and is arguably the among finest mathematical achievements we have seen in years, but it's a little bland and most likely a fluff. Since string theorists are great mathematicians, I think they'll help me sort the issue out. But they're likely to be intimidated and even humiliated, psychologically, by my age and won't take me seriously. But it doesn't hurt to try. If that doesn't work, maybe you can assist me in publishing an article in a science journal. And no, as a son, my love for you is inherent but I don't want to meet some snobby know-it-all children. I am not interested."
I told him that I'll take him to MIT next month, but I don't think I can really do that. How will I get the scientists in there to talk to my son? Will they allow it? How can I tell them about this? And above all, what if I can't and how will I tell my son this? He was so happy when I told im I'll take him to MIT. Furthermore, I would like to add that he found out all about physics and mathematics by reading from my husband's vast collection of books. My husband was a mathematician with interest in physics and philosophy as a hobby, and he suffered from schizophrenia in his later life and passed away when my son was five.