My kid is gifted. I’m sure all of our kids are gifted, and so we all should take a look at this paper on Gifted People and Existential Depression. Go ahead, it’s not as heavy as it looks.
The author has singled out “gifted” kids- but I’m sure this applies to all kids at one age or another. Existential depression, according to the cited author, happens when a person confronts one of four basic ‘life’ problems; death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. The confrontation with freedom relates to a kid’s need for structure in their lives, that people (all people, in general) need some sort of structure in which they can flourish. The others, I think, are pretty clear.
To keep our kids from getting “Existentially Depressed” — we, as parents, should provide structure for our kids, as well as helping them understand that human experience is shared; we’re not alone in this world. The best way to help them understand that experience is shared is through touch; a hug, a comforting hand on the back, a solid hair-tousling, these help bridge the distance between people that ‘humanity as islands’ can foster. Through spirituality or calm acceptance, we can help them acknowledge death and help them achieve a meaning in life from which they might fight this depression.
I’m not convinced that disassociation from the world is more prevalent today than it was in my parents’ ( or even my ) time. I think, perhaps, that given some of our common pursuits these days do nothing to bridge the gaps between people, do nothing to help us share our lives.