Trainee men

My boys spend a lot of time watching YouTube. They see all the latest trending videos, as well as a lot of others which are funny or interesting. Sometimes they learn from them. A lot of the time they take pleasure in watching people being really stupid. They also spend a lot of time on Snapchat and Instagram. For them, it’s all about the group chats and the ‘streaks’. Instagram isn’t much about sharing photos.

When my younger son talks, he tells me a lot about what he’s seen on YouTube. He talks about his latest game obsession (something he has been doing since he was about 6 and playing Club Penguin). I smile, nod and try to understand, although it’s really a mystery to me. My eldest tells a lot of stories from school. I don’t like his stories – they always seem to revolve around someone being horrible to someone else – whether another pupil or a teacher. He finds them funny. Even if he’s not involved in the incidents, I don’t like that he finds them funny and that pretty much every story is about someone being horrible.

The other week, we were on a train to London and had the misfortune to be sat by five young men in their late teens or early 20s. Their topics of conversation were like my boys’ conversations, but much, much worse. And I realised that my boys are merely trainee men and this is what they could turn into in a few years (although I really hope they don’t).

They were all on social media or watching videos constantly, but they still found time to conduct a non-stop and very loud conversation, which involved showing each other what was on their phones every few seconds. Every other word was a swear word, which was bad enough, but that was the least of my worries. It was the choice topics of conversation that were bothering me. My daughter was sat sniggering at the swearing, but I just hoped she wasn’t taking in the actual detail. They were saying demeaning things about girls and a recurrent theme was being nasty about someone who was ginger.

There was absolutely no filter and no consideration for the people around them. There weren’t any little kids on the  carriage, but my daughter is only 10 and she doesn’t need to be hearing things like that. Nor do I. Nor did anyone else on the train.

The thing that really stuck out for me was when one of them said ‘Have you smelled his cock?’ and the others agreed that they had. The mind really boggles at that.

Hearing them was a real eye-opener for me. I’ve heard about social media being such an influence on young people and about young men being sexist, but hearing it for real was a bit of a shock. I could see that a lot of the things my boys talk about were there in the conversation, only hugely magnified. It’s like seeing elements of my daughter’s ballet in a professional performance or elements of my son’s football in Man Utd.

I know that being a bit thoughtless goes with the territory when you’re young, but I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t have behaved like that ‘in my day’.

I try to bring my kids up to be thoughtful, considerate and pleasant members of society and I really hope I’m succeeding. I don’t want my trainee men to be horrifying fellow passengers on a train with their conversation in a few years.

Railway, Passengers, Trainee men




Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I think YouTube and social media has a lot to answer for….People seemed a lot nicer years ago when it wasn’t around.
    If I ever found out my girls behaved badly in public like that they would be in trouble no matter how old they were. It’s just rude and inconsiderate for people around.

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    • Too right! I wouldn’t stand for my kids behaving like that as adults, but I guess we wouldn’t know as they wouldn’t do it in front of us!

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  2. I have to say I think you got near a bad bunch and they are not representative of them all! Least not around me anyway! I do see some goings on from other young men my son’s age (19/20) but they are not all degrading women and swearing. My son certainly isn’t!

    And I went for drinks with my mate and her cousins went (omg turned out one recognised me as he was in a class with my son at school!). But anyway they were such wonderful young men – one was telling me how he works in a care home and what a rewarding and fulfilling job it is. There’s hope for the next generation yet I think.

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    • pinkoddy- I have to agree. I have a 19 yr old son and whilst he and his friends can be loud and boisterous on the whole they are a good crowd. Still have courtesy and respect.

      Hopefully the people that you came across on the train are not a true indication of the age group.

      I would have said something as well, perhaps that’s because I am a parent of similar aged man, I am not intimidated, but would have politely requested that they kept the volume and the language down.

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      • That’s good to hear Victoria, thank you! I wouldn’t have dared said anything to them – I just didn’t know what to say or how to say it! 🙁

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        • Its difficult I know as you don’t know if they are ‘normal’ or a bad lot who might have turned on you.

          I bet though had you approached them most if not all of them would have been mortified and very apologetic.

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    • That’s reassuring to hear! Obviously I have no experience of this age group yet. But you know how sometimes you see people and you kind of know they’re ‘bad’? These people didn’t look like that at all – they just looked perfectly normal 🙁

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  3. Oh how awful that you were subjected to that. I am certain your boys won’t be like that as they get older, much as I’m not convinced men ever really grow up (my husband still plays with the sca-elextric more than the children), I do think that the majority develop more consideration for others as they get older rather than less. I do wish those boys’ mothers could have heard them, if they were my children they wouldn’t do it again even if I caught them, if they were adults.

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    • Ha h, too right! And you’re so right about men never growing up, sigh! My boys are not great at consideration for others at the moment, judging by the trail of destruction they leave through the house and don’t tidy up, but I sincerely hope they wouldn’t behave like this in public.

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  4. Gosh they sound really awful. I hate when teens can’t seem to speak a sentence without effing and jeffing constantly. As my teacher once said, it’s usually because they have no confidence in their own words. I’d have been a bit nervous sat near them. I think social media can eh crazy but you and your OH are brilliant parents and your boys are lovely boys (even when they’re grumpy teens) and they will grow into brilliant men.

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    • Thanks very much! That’s such a lovely thing to say and very reassuring! 🙂

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  5. I kinda wonder if these guys might have been gang members? Their behaviour is reminiscent of that described by gang members in a book by Rebecca Asher called Man Up. Regardless, I’m sure you guys are doing perfectly well with your kids. The signs would already be there.

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    • Thanks very much! I think you’re right about my boys, but you do always worry about what your kids do when you’re not watching them!
      I hadn’t considered gangs! What I found quite disconcerting was that they looked like very normal, nice young men. Sometimes you see people and you expect they’re going to be trouble, but these men weren’t like that.

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  6. I think it does depend, I have been in situations with younger men who have been really lovely and others who have been vile. Like you, I am always cross with people who swear and talk inappropriately around my kids as I think it is really thoughtless but I don’t think it is deliberate, often they don’t even give it a second thought. We had an interesting experience on a train a couple of years ago when the train filled up with kids coming away from Reading festival. There was a girl sat next to the boys who just used the ‘F’ word endlessly and I was close to saying something when her friend turned round and told her off. Fair play. I think your boys will be more respectful as you have brought them up to be

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    • Thanks very much! I really do hope so! It’s good that the girl told her friend off for swearing. I do think the brain of the teenager/ 20-something does seem to lack the empathy to consider those around them and I hate to think of my kids potentially doing that one day in the future.

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  7. oh don’t i dread to think who my adult sons inadvertently upset people with their conversations…

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    • Ha ha! You’ve confirmed for me what I suspected – these weren’t particularly ‘bad’ people. I felt that they were normal young men – and I don’t want my own young men to turn out like that, if that’s what normal is these days! 🙁

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