Risk-taking by teen boy

I know this is an age-old issue, but after raising two girls, my son's behavior is new to me.  He's nearly 16, and generally a great kid.  But lately he has an inflated sense of bravado, and sees himself as somewhat invincible.  He's already asking to be able to walk around town after dark, once the weather changes, and real school starts again.  I'd actually be ok with him DRIVING home in the dark, from school or a friend's house, (no license yet) but in our area, walking just seems risky.  He's an athlete, and seems to think his physical strength would protect him if someone were to try and mug him.  But the fact remains that he's a kid, and he'd be walking in the dark, alone.  Tips about raising teen boys with false bravado?  Thanks.

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RE: Risk-taking by teen boy ()

You don't say where you live so maybe there's a particular concern about your neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods. Otherwise I don't see a big problem with a 16 year old (of either gender) walking alone after dark. especially once it's dark at 5 pm! I would definitely review with him personal crime prevention strategies, and maybe verbally run through some scenarios that might occur.

What you might also want to do is enforce rules about him letting you know where he is, and a curfew, which to me is the bigger issue. You don't want him out all night.

RE: Risk-taking by teen boy ()

I don't see this as a gender issue; some kids are risk takers and some are risk averse. My son is much more risk averse than his sister. It is rough. I have to say that the fact that he's ASKING is probably good, rather than just sneaking out and doing it,  and is pretty different from my parenting experiences of this phase!! I also was both more risk averse than my daughter, and grew up in a city with 24 hour transportation, no one drove, and people were out and about in a way that isn't true of the east bay at all. My hunch would be not to overreact at this stage; maybe he's just talking it out with you? Looking for ways to figure out what is actually safe? Quarantine is pretty rough on teen brains that desire novelty and risk and independence. It's also true that I needed to talk with my daughter once she was 12 or 13  about the dangers of walking alone (at night or during the day), as she would get catcalled, etc.

Freaking out (in my experience) doesn't ever help. Discussing strategies for what would happen if you did feel in danger, how to avoid being vulnerable, and making sure they'll always feel OK calling you at any time for any reason were what I found got me through (and are getting me through...)

RE: Risk-taking by teen boy ()

Is wanting the walk around after dark the only "risk taking" that he is engaged in? Our 14 year old frequently walks around after dark (short distances, but still). I don't see a problem with it at all, honestly, and I don't think it's false bravado for him to want to walk home after dark. 

I recommend reading Dan Siegel's book "Brainstorm," about the teenage brain. It explains that many behaviors that mystify parents are perfectly normal, and based in evolutionary and physiological realities.