Friday, March 16, 2012

Failure to launch and the Mama's boy

In the last post, I forgot this phenomenon as yet another way that young women are being robbed of men :-)
So I shall address this issue and my thoughts thereof here.

This time, it is not God or homosexuality or consanguity or the MGTOW movement that is the culprit in question.

This time, it is none other than Big Mama herself.
Yes, sweet darling (potential) Mommy-in-law.
And the man-baby she is enabling in his infantile ways.


(Um, I think I might have put on a red dress by mistake this morning, Grasshopper

Since 2003, Italy has been paying her people to have kids.
Sweden was doing this way before that.
I am sure there are lots of other countries with a tradition like that.
China's one-child policy seems to have found its antagonist elsewhere in the world.

Specific countries are declining in population. Italy, in 2050 will have 15 million fewer people than ten years ago. The full article can be found here.

I am not really interested in the reasons for the above policies because I am already familiar with them. Not enough people are marrying - marriage still being the preferred environment for raising children. People are marrying later in life, with the result that even if they do get married, they really only have time for one or a few children.
Somehow, the people having many children are not in large enough numbers to buck the trend.

And then there is the question of religion. Some Catholic countries where contaception is a no-no would expect their numbers to...

Seat of Catholicism.
A high proportion of Italian children under 10 are now an only child.
Is China a favourite holiday destination among Italians by any chance?

In Italy, a specific issue has been indicted as a prominent factor in the population-declining debacle. The phenomenon of 'Mama's boys'.
It has a name: 'mammismo'.
Mama's boys exist all over the world, I am sure. But they seem to have their headquarters in Italy.

The film 'Failure to launch' starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey touches on the issue of a man who fails to cut his ties to his parents. The parents of McConaughey's character pay a woman to get their 35 year old son out of their house and into a place of his own. As usual, there is always a hitch (a crisis) and then a hitch (a wedding). Total chick flick, but enjoyable.

The point about Italy though, is that unlike McConaughey's parents, Italian mothers are not so quick to get rid of their grown sons. They want him at home. All the while moaning that he is not providing them with grandchildren when Lucia from across the road already has five and she is ten years younger.

This symbiotic relationship seems to coexist quite nicely for the pair of them.
But not everyone is happy of course.

Young and pretty Maria who has had her eye on Luigi for a while now is not getting a look in. Because his sixty year old mother is the apple of his eye.

Is this phenomenon of 'Mama's boys' just a public shaming tactic of men who have a great relatoinship with their mothers (something women claim they like in men) or is this a recognition of a man-child who never outgrew his Oedipus complex?
An expert gives his opinion below:

 "The traditional family unit was historically the only guarantee of survival in uncertain times," says Roberto Vincenzi, a professor of psychotherapy in Genoa. Vincenzi says the key factor that keeps Italy's "figli per sempre" (sons forever) home in greater numbers than daughters is the sons' stronger attachments to their mothers. Proietti believes that mammismo has its roots in the traditional role of the Italian (and Latin) woman, who often felt unfulfilled before career and divorce were options. "She thus poured her love into her children. Over time, the son became a sort of husband to his mother, without the sexual component," she says. Vincenzi says the mother-son bond becomes pathological only when it impedes the son from growing up.

Erm, do I spot an example of  'The sins of the mother' here? Mother wants a substitute husband?
And what about the son? Is he really being noble to Mother or is he just afraid of the responsibility of having his own family? Using poor old Mother as the excuse? Is this what psychiatrists call folie à deux?
Or is it really the economic crisis? That would be understandable, of course.

Not having experienced Oedipus complex myself, I do not know how it affects a man. I have an idea but I do not claim to be an authority on it.

Women have their own 'Electra complex' of course. Interesting that it coincides on a temporal basis with p-envy.
Anyhow, the consequences for society must be far greater with Oedipus than Electra, surely.

A man should be fully independent of his parents before he can take on a woman. A woman does not really need to be. Modern society is such that she often is, but in fact things worked out quite nicely when she wasn't, no?

What's the deal with the Mama's boy? He is not the classic MGHOW, but he may bridge both camps.
Does he really need a woman to lure him away from Big Mama's apron strings? Does he want a woman who is identical to Mama? Is that the issue at hand that no-one is admitting to?
Would this not be a little, well...creepy and weird?
Because afterall, a Mama's boy is far from identical to a woman's Daddy, right?...Because at least Daddy broke away from his mother long enough to have kids...

Can young women be blamed if they don't want to take on Big Mama?

Because afterall, let's face it - Big Mama can be a formidable opponent.

Just ask Ray Barone's long-suffering wife Debra.


Grasshopper said...

When I was engaged a few years back and brought my sweetheart home to meet the folks it was almost scary the way she and my Mom bonded. I mean Mom was giving her tips on how to take care of me (i.e. don’t nag him about chores, keep plenty of pepper in the house he puts that on all his food, etc.).

Mom’s motive was of course wanting to be on her future daughter in laws good side because she was the one person on the planet who could keep her from the grandkids. This apparently happened to a friend of hers who got into a fight with her daughter in law. Mom was really terrified this would happen to her.

My sweetheart styled hair for a living my Mom starting going to her shop – even though it was miles out of her way. I think they even went out to lunch a couple of times. My sisters did this too.

Mom had a vested interest in seeing the marriage work. She was a source of helpful advice given with that in mind. God knows where women get their advice on men these days – most of it really isn’t helpful to them.

Based on this experience, I would think that a man’s mother would be a natural ally for a woman.

A footnote to the story since you are probably wondering - my girlfriend and I had issues and never did tie the knot. Overall the engagement was a red pill experience for me – not this aspect however – but your OP today brought it to mind.


Spacetraveller said...

@ Grasshopper,

I am sorry it didn't work out with the ex-fiancée.

I know what you mean about some (potential) mothers-in-law like your Mum! I know women like this.
At least 3:

From my own experience, the very first guy I dated...His mother was WONDERFUL to me.
In time, I realised half-amused and half-wistful that I liked the mother more than I liked the son.
I kid you not.

When we broke up (we were really wrong for each other, it was actually an amicable and necessary parting), I regretted the loss of contact with his mother more than that with the son. She was that wonderful. His father was the same.

My paternal grandmother was the best mother-in-law ever, for my mother.
Again, she jokes that she would never have married him were it not for his wonderful maother LOL.
My maternal grandmother was the best MIL for all her sons' wives. All my maternal uncles' wives LOVED her.

You are right, a man's mother can be a great source of good advice (on men) for a woman. In this regard, she can even be better than the woman's own mother, because the man's mother knows her own son better than anyone else, so her 'teaching' can be very specific, as in your mother's case.
Very good point!


Which makes it all the more sad with the ones I describe above who are so selfish they miss the point of how useful they can be both for their sons and their son's wives.

When a MIL is so great, like your mother was to your ex, the daughter-in-law is fiercely loyal to her. She could have the DIL almost literally eating out of her hand. Why don't some mothers of men realise this?

And yes, this behaviour might be motivated by fear, as you allude to in the case of your mother - because afterall, DIL really is the 'gatekeeper of the access to the grandkids' so to speak. But everyone needs some sort of motivation for any behaviour they display. The motivation behind it shoud not matter - as long as the behaviour is good :-)

just visiting said...

Oh ST, it's not just the doting moms. My ex is in therapy dealing with issues about his mother and how that tied in with his drug use. I call this the alpha male failure to launch. Successful in many areas of his life. Driven in fact. A very take charge kind of guy. Charming, confident high adrenaline. But the issues created by mom....and the episodes of addiction.

Mom was the ultimate push pull master. Six children that she pitted against each other to vie for her love and attention. Punishments of rejection and hatred for not playing her games.Result. Adult children that had issues with co dependance and exaggerated dominance. Yet none of them would stand up to her. (And this family produced nothing but alpha male types, except when it came to her. Alpha wimps.)

She would brag about breaking up the marriages of her children. (Something that would have made me reconsider marriage to her son if I'd been aware before hand.)One of the make or break moments with hubby rather early on was when she set her sights on our marriage. Perhaps the first time in decades that someone had stood up to the old cow. But the disappointment that I felt in my husband. This woman would have had no power to hurt me or our marriage save for my husband letting her manipulate him. I saw for the first time, a weakness in my husband that made my blood run cold.

His praise for what I'd done made me feel sick. It should have been him throwing down on boundaries and limits. Not me. Perhaps if he had, things would have turned out differently. Now, I began to have the uneasy feeling that one of the reasons that he'd married me was because he thought that I was stronger than her. That I'd take care of the problem. Not good.

I think that it's important to have that division between parent and child before taking on a spouse. I made excuses because we were so young, I thought that he'd out grow it. Though, I'd understood the importance well enough with my father and I. Dad was rather formidable. The clashes were legendary. But once married, he knew I wouldn't tolerate interference in my marriage.

In the end, ex hubbys mother threatened to commit suicide if he didn't leave me and our child to live with her. After a failed attempt, she refused to speak or see him again. Quite the head trip.

Spacetraveller said...

@ JV,

Ugh, what a horrible specimen of a mother!
This is the sort of thing I was referring to in 'The sins of the Mother'.

I am so sorry you encountered a Mother-in-law like this.
The suicide thing takes the biscuit, as we Brits say.

What a contrast to Grasshoper's mother.

I think women like this are the most selfish freaks of all.
They always want love and attention from everyone, whether or not they merit it. It's me, me, me all the time with them.

Bragging about breaking up the marriages of her children?
For real?


"I think that it's important to have that division between parent and child before taking on a spouse."


BeijaFlor said...

(Scowls as darkly as a hummingbird CAN scowl...)

I think I represent this post. Yes, indeed I do.

IIRC, I heard about the "mammoni" (as the Italian mamma's-boys were called) in the late 1990s. The story was heavy on shame, portraying them as lazy slackers, at best underemployed, who lived off their parents rather than going out on their own and making something of themselves ... in much the same terms Bill Bennett and Kay Hymowitz are sneering today.

Well, at that time, my mother was living with me - I was paying the mortgage, as I had since we bought the house where she lived out the rest of her life. She was financially and emotionally dependent on me, and had been since the early 1970s when I got the job that turned into my career. I'd had a couple of romances in my twenties and thirties, but when it came time to choose - my answer was "Princess loves me, but Mom NEEDS me."

She died in 2002, and I already knew by that time that any woman young enough to start and raise a family saw me as a "dirty old man." Anyways, I didn't (and still don't) want to marry and raise a brood - I have my own dreams for my future.

So I acknowledge that I am "part of the problem." But I can still look at myself with respect, and I'm still working toward the realization of my own dreams.

Spacetraveller said...


I'm afraid you do not qualify as a Mama's boy.
They are a completely different animal from you.

just visiting said...

@ Beija Flor,

I don't think it's the same thing.