Over-protective parents are certainly not unique to Italy only, but lately the ‘mammismo’ (literally mamma’s boy) is one of the best-known Italian cultural stereotypes.
The Italian mammismo is a term to define excessive attachment, sometimes morbid, of a son – not prepubescent – to the mother and vice versa. Once it was called the Oedipus complex or Peter Pan syndrome and was a disease.
But in the past, it was a popular tradition, especially in the south, where children had more contact with mom who stayed at home rather than with the father who worked away. This cultural model is, of course, waned over years thanks to the progress that led to sexual equity with fathers more involved in family life and mothers involved in work activities.
But then things changed again, and worse.
From mammismo is derived the new term “mammone”, a most derogatory and offensive one, in relation to older guys who are still tied to their parents, living together for economic reasons and convenience.
Beyond certain limits, the mammismo, due to an excessive attachment even after the adolescence, can lead to psychological and behavioral problems as demonstrated by young people who find it difficult to separate from parents and home to create their own family, or by conflicts arising when, after marriage, for the guy is more important the mother than his wife. On the other side, her mom is always there with open arms waiting for them, and as we Neapolitan say, “e figlje so piezze ‘e core” (children are heart’s pieces)
Mammismo or Peter Pan syndrome, in many cases is a disease that involves both subjects, often unconsciously making them unhappy, with her mother who inadvertently hinders the growth and independence of the boy and he who will always be more in difficulty when must make decisions or stay too long away from the mother.
It’s the umbilical cord that virtually has not yet been cut, where one needs the other so morbid. This brings the mother to be overprotective toward child, till to take possession and be part of his life, acting as a filter, preventing, so, all those unpleasant experiences or negative ones that are useful, however, for emotional and social growth of the boy, to be then able to make free choices and accept the consequences too.
No wonder then if we often hear about depressive syndrome, marriages that break down quickly or young people who escape or commit suicide. They were not prepared to live those experiences, having been living in a softened way, hampered or disheartened!
Compared to the past, progress has brought huge worsening in this field. Just 40 years ago, most boys, already in adolescence, felt the need of independence and freedom, and were considered “men” even before the coming of age. Today, as a pandemic, it is the opposite, with many teenagers who still act as children and older who cant do without parents, parents who in turn still treat them like children.
This behavior postpone a lot the time of self-independence, injuring it too.
If it is true that a good beginning bodes well, a teenager who still snuggle in her mom arms must understand that so he is not living his life fully, that experience not made today will not have the same meaning and value if made later, it’s time for him to make his choices, even if different from those imposed by his parents. His life as a citizen of the world must start and he is the protagonist, with or without parents constantly wet-nursing him.
Damn, strength, resourcefulness, creativity, openness, joy of life but also unconsciousness and the chance having at 18 years there will be no more at 30!
What the fuck are you waiting for live your life as a more mature and aware person without being there to tell or ask for anything to the mom like a big baby?! It may sound absurd, but at 16 you might already be a father, work, produce, be a true and active “person” and not the man child!
What a damned nuisance!
Grow up please!
The absence of the word “mammismo” or another adequate terms in German, English, Danish, Swedish and so on and forth, let understand that this is mainly an Italian problem, a bigoted country par excellence. I cannot forget the warning that an elementary school teacher gave to my mother who, long ago, took my brother to school every day, “Madam, your son will never become a man!”
According to some stats, in America as in Sweden, the average age of young people who try to leave home and enter the world, range from 18 to 25 years. In Finland the average age about girls leaving their parents is 23 years. And in Italy?
Needless to say, we are very, very far!