Mama’s Boys of Europe Face an Uncertain Future

The Italians love to have their children around for years after they should have moved away, gotten married or at the very least started a life of their own away from home. Well to be precise, it is the mother that wants her son to live at home forever, but since Dad was probably a Mama’s boy at one time, he will usually relate.

In fact, Italy is the birthplace of the Mama’s Boy. The term Mother’s boy, or Mama’s boy was first coined in Rome, Italy in 1903 by Sante De Sanctis one of the most representative figures in Italian scientific psychology at that time. He discovered that this new behavior was closely linked to the modern needs of the industrialized society and  public education that in Europe and the United States were experiencing a new organization of working rhythms. He found that Italian boys felt more comfortable at home. This spread across the Mediterranean before being exported to America by immigrants. It also spread far into the East across to India and China, where they are called माँ लड़का and 媽媽的孩子 respectively.

But the Italian practice of having your children stay at home long into adulthood is now facing scrutiny in the courts. A Venetian couple has retained the services of a lawyer in a bid to force their 41-year-old son to leave home.

The couple, who have not been named, told local media they were “exhausted” by caring for their adult child. They currently cook for him as well as doing his washing and ironing. And changing his diapers has become more than tiresome. The say he is completely hooked on his mother’s lasagna and spaghetti and that he doesn’t like to blow his nose without mama holding the tissue. But they have had enough.
“We cannot do it anymore. My wife is suffering from stress and had to be hospitalized,” said the exasperated father.  “He has a good job but still lives at home. He demands that his clothes be washed and ironed and his meals prepared. He really has no intention of leaving.”

The lawyer for the couple, Andrea Camp, said a letter was sent to the son giving the middle-aged man 10 days to find himself a flat, or have the case referred to court, with the prospect of more forceful action being taken to evict him. The parents can apply for a protective order against the son, who is said to have an aggressive streak.

But believe it or not there is an actual precedent regarding this. In 2002, an Italian court decided that adult children – or “mama’s boys” – could live off their parents indefinitely. Thereby bringing the ability to sponge of your parents forever a legal right. Young Italians are renowned for their reluctance to leave home, with a study released last year showing that 48% of offspring between the ages of 18 and 39 still live under their parents’ roofs. Young male Italians known as “mammone”, or mama’s boys, are particularly attached to their mother’s apron strings. But it is not just Italian Mama’s boys that this ruling may affect. The outcome could have far-reaching consequences.. The days of the bamboccioni may now very well be numbered in Italy but Mama’s boys everywhere will be watching the outcome of this with bated baby’s breath. Imagine not being able to live at home rent free at the age of 38!

An Italian cabinet minister that heard about the case and has now proposed legislation which would make it compulsory for teenagers to leave home once they reached adulthood. But Renato Brunetta, the minister in charge of streamlining the country’s bureaucracy, also admitted that in his youth he too was a “bamboccioni” and that his mother made his bed for him until he was 30. So he knows what it is like to be a Mama’s boy. Perhaps he has gotten sick of his own child (who is 39) living off him and his wife.

It is also reported that Pfizer corporation is working on a pill to cure Mama’s boy syndrome (MBS) and are just a few years away from having it on the market.

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