Question:Our son is 18 and just finished his first semester at college and failed 2 of his classes. He is a very intelligent person and is frustrated with himself because he didn't want to be like a lot of freshmen in college who fail the first semester. During a discussion, he mentioned that it seemed like a waste of time to go to college and get a degree since he feels he's probably going to die before he's 30; why couldn't he just work full-time and do things he wants to do. Now, he's never had any serious health problems, so I'm not sure what's making him feel this way. Is this just an excuse? Could he be scared of other things and not know how to communicate them? Is this normal at his age? He's always been able to talk to us, so we're confused.
It sounds to me that you son is well within the range of normal late-adolescence. This last stage of adolescence has a lot to do with thinking about the future and how the young adult fits into that world. It does not sound strange that your son is disappointed with his first semester of college - particularly since his own expectations were higher. As a late-adolescent begins to think more about adult life and how they fit into the world, it can be a scary experience. I'm not sure why he made the comment about dying before the age of 30 - it could be coming from a wide-variety of issues.
I understand that why you would be confused that your son is no longer communicating with you on the same level as he used to. Still, be reassured that it is normal part adolescence for a young adult to separate from their parents and begin to evolve into a different kind of relationship than you've had in the past. Again, while it can be frustrating for the parent, this is not a bad thing - and in fact - can lead you and your son into a more mature, adult relationship.
I would suggest that you do your best to keep the communication lines open. Be sure to send your son the message that you are there for him. And, if he doesn't want to discuss these issues with you, then let him know that it is helpful to have someone in his life that he trusts to talk with about his feelings.