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Is my son a freak? I feel like he's a robot.

(7 Posts)
CrazyAnnieWilkes Thu 18-Aug-11 20:26:55

For as long as I can remember, my 21 year old son (one of three children) has been an intensely private person. I feel like whenever I talk to him, he is holding up some kind of shield so that I can never get to know anything about him, his life, his thoughts etc.

I remember as a very young kid, he was always so thoughtful, outgoing and never felt weird about 'letting anyone in'.

That changed at the age of around 12 and since then I've never met any of his friends. He never talks about his friendships. If he is going out with them (which relieves me slightly that he does actually have a social life) then he refers to these people as 'my friends' or 'them' or 'my friend' i.e. never actually giving a name or gender or clue as to who these people are. He's never had anyone over. He's never had a girlfriend/boyfriend.

I have no idea what his hobbies are, if asked an opinion about something he just gives neutral answers. I don't know what music he likes, what he likes doing with his friends. It feels like I live with a robot.

He goes to university and is in third year, but ever since he went it's as if this robot gets off the train, stays with us for a few days and then gets back on the train and disappears off to university for the rest of the term. I know nothing about his university life, who his friends are, what he does in his spare time. I do ask by the way! But I get the same sort of 'shield' up where I never manage to get anything out of him. It's like he NEVER lets anybody in onto the true him.

It honestly seems like he has no personality or no life of his own. It's like he is drifting through life, not telling anyone about the person inside of him. I can help but compare him to my two other children - both of them are extremely popular, we have their friends over ALL the time and their partners. They were both extremely sporty at school, had many, many interests and tell us a lot about their lives. It's like child number three is from another planet.

Why is this? Why has my child become to crushingly secretive almost, to the extent that I really despair because I don't feel like I know him at all, and I'm not sure anybody does. How can I get him out of this robotic frame of mind he has and get him to have a bit more personality? Please don't say it's my fault because I don't think it is, people become like this not because of their parents. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

TheGoddessBlossom Thu 18-Aug-11 20:31:26

Do other people (previous teachers, your husband, your other children) get the same reaction( or lack thereof) from him?

blowthewindsoutherly Thu 18-Aug-11 20:32:44

My brother is a bit like this and has been suffering depression since his mid teens (now 35).

I'm not suggesting that your son has any mental health issues, not at all. What I will say is this - sometimes my brother is better than others, he's not been too bad depression-wise for a while. He is still himself though. Some people just are what they are, we can't change people, nor should we.

I have listened to years of hand wringing from my parents over why he is the way he is, and why I am outgoing and fulfilled etc etc when we had the same upbringing. The answer is - we are different people, we are only being ourselves. Don't expect your son to be your other children, he is his own person. Respect and cherish his differences if you can.

timidviper Thu 18-Aug-11 20:39:04

Maybe your son just compartmentalises his life IYSWIM.

If he is happy and has friends (if he wants them, that is) then maybe there is no problem other than he is very different to you and the rest of the family.

My DS is quite a private person and rarely tells me general chit-chat as DD does but he does have friends and thoroughly enjoys his life, he just doesn't tell me!

CrazyAnnieWilkes Thu 18-Aug-11 20:48:45

But what causes our DS/DDs to compartmentalise their lives? Is it lack of attention in earlier life? His siblings were very popular and very high achieving at school (while he was the high achiever academically) and as such spent a lot of his childhood alone while we were ferrying our other kids to and from different events, watching DD at hockey and spending afternoons watching DS1 at the cricket. I guess we may have neglected him in some ways, but it's his fault for not developing any interests of his own, hence why he spent much of his childhood not really telling us anything, probably because he felt we weren't interested anyway.

God, I'm crying now. It's really sad. I'm just getting desperate to know my own family...

timidviper Thu 18-Aug-11 21:07:30

Don't feel bad. I'm sure it's not your fault, just different personalities.

My DS is also a high academic achiever but he did loads of sports and we all spent loads of time together as a family so don't think that makes a difference. He doesn't sound neglected, just someone on a slightly different wavelength. I have a brother who is very similar too but the world would be a poorer place if we were all the same.

I was told years back that boys have to grow away from their mothers in order to mature properly then they get closer again when they get a bit older, the uni years are probably a time when he is learning to live his own life a bit so not a good time for being closer to his mum. I have learnt as DS has got older, he is every bit as sensitive and caring as DD, he just doesn't show it the same way. Sometimes I have to remind myself not to feel hurt when I feel that "distance" but I know he loves me and I love him as he is and would not want to change him.

cory Fri 19-Aug-11 09:14:28

I think you may be jumping to conclusions here. The fact that he does not choose to tell you about his friends or interests is no evidence that he doesn't have them: he may have a perfectly satisfactory set of both and simply feel a need to protect his independence- some people do. I have a very happy relationship with my parents, but there are stil aspects of my life I keep to myself. He is after all an adult, so unless you have a genuine reason to suspect that he is in trouble, you need to leave the decisions about his life in his hands.It could simply be that he feels you worry too much about him getting it right.

If I were you I would back off the questions, and just show you enjoy being around him anyway. And stop comparing him to his siblings, even privately to himself, that never makes things easier. Even if he is getting depressed, there will be plenty of people at his university who are qualified to deal with this.

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