I am a single working parent of a 16 year old boy. He is highly intellingent, well read and a social person - has good friends and hobbies. He also studies at the uni (currently doing a BA in math and CoS) so he is under a lot of stress. Ours is a democratic household, so he pretty much does what he wants (he had chosen what to study and where, and it'd be fine with me if he instead of studying would have chosen working on a farm or whatever.) Puberty hit him pretty hard and he became:
- antisocial, has mood swings, depression, can lock himself in his room for days,
- claims that his teachers at high school are incopentent and they aren't worth his attention, that he hates it there, saying that he only lectures worth his time are at the uni, and missed quite a lot of lessons at high school (and some at the uni.)
- had completely stopped working out, and while he participates in weekend activities with his friends (no drugs and almost no alcohol, we checked) his lifestye is pretty unhealthy,
- displays the classical Holden Caulfield behaviour, disillusioned with society, conformity etc.
- not very thrilled to spend time with family, prefers his friends (which is fine, the family members are understanding and they're ok to wait out this period)
What should i do with this almost banal and textbook case of identity crisis? I want to support him, but while in the past he shared his worries with me and if needed asked for help/advice, lately he doesn't confide in me much.
I made him promise me that he will discuss his problems with his friends, and not keep it all inside, and he agreed, but maybe he needs more than his friends' advice.
My impression is that he sometimes is almost scared by the intensity of his feelins and mood swings/depression. It seems he is also feels that he is now messed up, because he set his goals years ago to finish his B.A. at the age of 18-19, but at this time he is too distracted to study as usual and his grades arent A+ anymore. I told him that it's fine to leave the university and live as any 16 year old, and to have more free time if it's too hard on him or if he decides to continue, i can help him with the material he missed, and if he prefers someone else, we can hire a tutor... but as for now, he is now not sure what he wants except for me to leave him alone to wallow in his depression. Which I pretty much did and try not to crowd him.
But maybe let things sort out themselves is not the best idea. Sould I at this stage try to convince him to see a psychologist (he doesn't overly excited about the discipline of psychology though, thinks it's useless, and that neuroscience is the way to go to achieve real results) or just let him 'grow out of it'? He probably needs advice to sort out what he should do, but for now he is not very thrilled about trying to discuss his problems with adults.