TL;DR - My son turned 18 last month. He is ready to speak when needed and almost never argues. However, he never discusses how he feels about things, what he feels about himself or the people around him. He is quite good in studies, has no physical health issues. I'm worried about his emotional health, though. Am I being unnecessarily anxious? If not, how to make things better?
Background - We are from India. My son finished his grade 12, and had things been normal (non-covid times), he'd be in college from August onwards. However, the entrance exams have been delayed till October, so he's still brushing up his preparation. Due to the pandemic his school was completely online last year, and so his communication with his friends has reduced drastically. He has a 5 year younger sister. Academically he has always been good, and has no physical problems either. He's not into sports since grade 11, but by observing others I have seen that's common to most studious children.
However, since the past few months, I have never seen him express his own feelings to us (or anyone else, for that matter, since he doesn't get much chance for outside communication due to the pandemic). His Dad (my husband), on the other hand, almost everyday speaks of how his day was, if he felt someone or something was particularly laughable, or frustrating, to him. I speak my mind out, even at the smallest things like getting angry at myself for forgetting something important. My son never does that. He speaks quite normally when asked plain facts, such as when will be his next xyz class, or what did they just say in the TV news. But he never shares his own feelings. He doesn't even display emotions, like an angry expression, a beaming smile etc.
He takes a very detached view of the world which often stuns me. Some example of what he says/does that I feel are highly uncharacteristic of his age -
- He doesn't watch news or sports regularly. If I ask him "Do you know who won abc match yesterday?" - He replies "Knowing that isn't going to help me in any way, so I don't care."
- He doesn't care at all how he looks, as long as it's decent enough. I see other boys spending quite some time with hair gels, fancy T-shirts and what not. He'll just wear whatever he finds. When I ask about it, he says - "I feel no need of impressing others with my appearance. As long as I'm fit and comfortable, I don't mind if people think I'm ugly."
- Suppose he and someone else (someone might be me or his Dad too) are disagreeing on some point, and he senses it is turning into an argument. The disagreement is on some quite trivial point - like what Uncle said last week on the phone, or general opinion such as the actions of some politician, i.e. some outside matter that will not change anything in our actions or lives, even if left unresolved. Natural human tendency is to continue arguing till we are able to convince the other person that we are right, even if we gain nothing by proving ourselves correct. But my son stops the discussion then and there. He sometimes even pretends to have been convinced and accepts the other person's word, just so that he doesn't need to talk about some unimportant point that they disagree about.
- If shown a photograph of a young couple of a beautiful girl and a handsome boy, the first thing he'd notice would be the flowers and hills in the background, and often their pet dog/cat. He'd prefer an afternoon walking through a garden and spend the night gazing at stars instead of going to some noisy party with his friends
Two or three people have told me that he's "wise beyond his years" but I'm really concerned about his emotional health. I don't want him to keep his feelings bottled up inside. I was even worried that he might be suffering from depression, but he shows no physical symptoms of that (normal appetite, regular sleep routine, same levels of mental concentration/capability).
Am I being overly anxious or are my worries valid?
If not, what's the best way to approach him about it?