“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”  ― Franklin D. RooseveltWhen it comes to parenting, for me there are two sets of things that kids need to learn: The Basics and The Big Stuff. The Big Stuff is stuff which only tends to come along once, maybe twice, like teaching kids about The Birds and the Bees, helping them to understand prejudice in society – you know, real ‘putting them on the right path’ type stuff which will help to mould them into worthwhile human beings. Then there’s ‘The Basics’. Stuff like putting your hand over your mouth when you cough or sneeze, how to brush your teeth and use a knife and fork, how to wipe your bum – all of the stuff that they’ll probably need every day for the rest of their lives.

Depending on your parenting style, you might include other things in The Basics. Husband thinks its hugely important for kids to learn how to use a knife as a tool, for instance. Okay, so the likelihood of them finding themselves alone in the wilderness, Ed Stafford-style, isn’t huge but basic survival skills can really set a foundation for kids and instil an important sense of resourcefulness in them from an early age.

Over the years though, I’ve noticed more and more that basic standards seem to be slipping. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to see kids getting neatly pressed and folded cotton handkerchiefs out of their pockets if they need to sneeze, but even a hand over the mouth would be better than nothing, and that’s what I seem to see – nothing. Kids cough, sneeze and splutter in public with not to much as a hand raise or snot being suppressed.

There’s a particular thing I’ve been seeing for the past few years which appears to be a bit of a ‘trend’, and I don’t know if this is my age talking, but it completely boggles my mind. It seems to be normal these days for boys and young men to walk along…with their hands down their pants! When I first started noticing it, it was usually a one-handed grab, but now I regularly see blokes with BOTH hands down there, just casually walking around like it.

My first thought was “If they fall over, they’re going to smash their faces in because they’ll have nothing to break their fall”, and then it dawned on me that there’s a very good chance that these boys are actually holding their junk. I mean, really? It’s not going to fall off if you don’t hold it all day!

The thing which really compounded the horror for me was seeing a poster up in my local surgery, which had been ISSUED BY THE NHS, reminding blokes that if they walk around with their hands down their pants (I believe the headline was “Are You a ‘Hands-Down-Your-Pants Kinda Guy?”) that they need to wash their hands more often otherwise they could be spreading urine and groin germs every time they touch something.

I mean, really?! Maybe if their parents had done a better job of teaching them more about germs, not to mention BASIC LEVELS OF APPROPRIATE PUBLIC BEHAVIOUR, they wouldn’t do it? When I was a kid, if we’d seen a grown man walking around with his hands down the front of his trousers, I’d have run home and told my parents that there was a pervert prowling the streets.

So, why do standards appear to have slipped? Are parents failing to teach their kids The Basics? What do you think, readers? Have you noticed a slip in basic standards? Do you have a personal bugbear, something you see that drives you potty? Do let me know.