Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Is being a mama's boy a sin?

The plain fact is that Italians just are not having children, a situation the Roman Catholic Church, headquartered in an enclave in this capital city, sees as something of a crisis.

Pope Benedict XVI brought attention to the issue with the beatification — a major step toward sainthood — of a woman known as “Mamma Rosa,” who lived in the early 20th century and raised 11 kids. She married a widower with two small children, then gave birth to nine children of her own (and also took in four others).

But while the pope praises couples who choose to have several children, most Italian families limit themselves to one.

But while such a phenomenon [condom sales] demonstrates the cliché of the “Latin lover,” statistics reveal the other side of the Italian male — as a “mamma’s boy.”

The latest report from ISTAT, the Italian Statistical Institute, shows that 40 percent of Italian men between the age of 30 and 34 still live with their parents.

There are multiple reasons: stagnant incomes, lack of affordable housing, education and employment.

But those don’t address the cultural and psychological factors which have an even greater sway on this trend: the fact that it is socially OK for a grown man to live with his mother.

Whereas Anglo-American society often views an adult male living at home as being somewhat peculiar or inadequate, Italians think it’s absolutely normal.

There were 10,000 fewer marriages in 2004 than in 2003, for a total of 250,000. In a country of 58 million people, that’s not very many.

And not only are more Italian men choosing to live with their significant others rather than to marry, but they are also becoming fathers at an older age than in any other country in the world.

The average age of the father of a first child here is now 33, and the report also notes that when 35 year olds marry they are 80 percent less likely to want to have children than men who get married at 25.

These numbers reflect a society that is becoming more and more secular, less religious, and more self-centered.

And the fewer the children, the more Italian mothers seem to cling to them for as long as they can.

Read the complete article No babies? Italy blames its 'mamma's boys' from MSNBC.

While this article is fairly critical of the male lifestyle in Italy, what about the mothers? My mom is kind enough to do my laundry and cook for me when I come home. (Love you, Mom!) But when it's time to go, she is okay with that.

These Italian mothers who facilitate their sons' irresponsible lifestyles should bear some of the responsibility. While we're talking about stereotypes, what happened to the scheming Italian mother hell-bent on seeing her son married off to some nice girl of good family?

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