Paying Mama’s Boys to Leave Mama
The Italian government is now giving young men cash to fly the nest. PJM's Aaron Hanscom writes that it's a dog's life for these "mammoni," who just don't want to leave home.
October 6, 2007 - 12:33 am
The Club Beverly Hills offers the world’s most privileged dogs the opportunity to “socialize with like minded peers, enjoy a Jacuzzi soak, grab a gourmet meal, see their private doctor, or fit in a quick workout.” Apparently these indulgences are necessary to reduce the stress of lives made up primarily of sleeping on expensive couches and having your neck scratched.
If only these pooches had it half as good as my brother-in-law.
Up until last month, Fernando, who is 33, lived with his parents. When there were no temporary job openings (which is usually the case in his small town in southern Spain), his days were devoid of any activity more strenuous than playing video games. Around noon, he’d roll out of the same bunk bed he used to share with his younger brother and plop down in front of the computer monitor. There he’d remain until called to lunch by his mother. Most often Fernando would skip Spain’s greatest invention –the midday siesta– because, well, there are only so many hours in the day to play “Doom.”
I thought of my brother-in-law when I read recently that Italy’s government will offer young Italians money to leave home. Most of that cash will be going to men, as they make up 67 percent of those staying alla casa. Close-knit family takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that eight out of 10 Italians under 30 still live at home, and the average age for moving out is 36. The Daily Telegraph reports:
Next year’s budget will offer almost ¬£700 in tax relief to Italians under 30 earning less than ¬£10,500 a year, and half that to those earning more.
In addition, the government will pay 19 per cent towards the cost of renting accommodation for university students if they study at least 65 miles away from their home.
What’s the big deal about flying the nest at a late age? Politician Renato Brunetta says it hurts Italy’s growth and innovation since there is “little movement either geographically, socially, or professionally and little propensity to risk.” Who needs independence when it means dirty socks and frozen dinners? Put another way, why go out and risk failure when you can get unconditional love at home?
Indeed, love is the reason 42-year-old television quiz show host Flavio Insinna says he still lives with his mother and father. “I have never felt the need to move. The reason is not because of money, it is because I love them,” he told La Stampa newspaper. That’s all well and good, but whatever happened to: “The reason I’m moving out is not because I don’t love my parents, it is because I want to spend a little more time with my girlfriend”?
Of course, a little more intimacy shouldn’t be the only incentive to get out of the house. Creating a new home of your own is a surefire way to become a responsible adult. The Book of Genesis commands: “And therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and be as one flesh.” If religion isn’t your thing, Hollywood has also weighed in on the matter. In Failure to Launch, Matthew McConaughey plays a mama’s boy in his 30s who is in no hurry to leave home. His desperate parents end up hiring an attractive woman whose job it is to get men to move out of their parents’ home by forming relationships with them.
But increasing numbers of young men are doing all they can to remain perpetual adolescents. Consider Tony Byrum, a 28-year-old who has already had a vasectomy in order to end his reproductive years. He explained on the Today show why he had the procedure: “It’s kind of getting to be a departure from this society – a wife, a husband, have kids, live in the suburbs, –and instead is more, ‘Maybe we don’t want to have kids.”
At least he won’t have to worry about his children moving back home after college.
When all is said and done, are tax breaks, biblical injunctions and romantic comedies really the best ways to get kids out of the house? The New York Times recently reported on a study conducted last year which found that “men apparently enjoy being with their parents, while women find time with their mom and dad to be slightly less pleasant than doing laundry.”
Perhaps that’s because women are more likely to do the laundry at home, while men sit on the couch and watch football.
An idea for Italy: pass a law prohibiting mothers from doing their sons’ laundry. Although even that might not work. According to the Telegraph, “Many other Italians happily send their laundry home to their mothers, and 43 percent, when they do finally move out, rent or buy homes less than a mile from their parents.”
Aaron Hanscom is a Los Angeles-based editor for PJ Media; his own blog is Scribblings.