During my time in Florence I wanted to immerse myself in a deeper understanding of Italian culture. I was curious about Italian values, such as fashion, family traditions, religion, and the divide between north and south Italy. Throughout my research I interviewed four Florentines varying in age, gender, and occupation. You’ll find the second of three articles below with my results from research and interviews.
The second topic that I investigated was “family”, more specifically Italian family traditions, the concept of mummy’s boys, and the typical values of an Italian family.
I interviewed the same four subjects as I previously did in Part 1. The first topic that I asked Monica about was the “mummy’s boys” phenomena, which I had a lot of curiosity about. I found that for the most part, all Italian boys experience having special treatment from their mother’s at an early age.
“Whether it is your boyfriend or husband, they will never stop reminding you of how well their mother made a certain recipe, how they did this or that. It is the myth of the momma,” said Monica.
“The mom is most important and men always need the approval from the mother. They ask the mom about everything, even the smallest of things,” said Carina. Carina is 29 and just recently moved in with her boyfriend of 30, who just moved out of his family’s house.
I concluded from my interviews that the mother wants everything for the son. Men usually do not ask the mother of very many things, but she would always do it willingly. When men finally move out on their own, which might not be until they are 30 or 40, they have problems adjusting and doing everyday tasks for themselves.
After discussing this topic I found myself wondering, why mother’s connect this way with their sons and not so much their daughters? Monica, Carina, and Anna all explained how girls at a younger age have more independence and are more likely to travel outside of their home culture.
Monica moved to the United Kingdom at age 19 to work and travel, most of this independence seen in young girls has come from imitating their mother’s behaviors as young children. Taking responsibilities around the house, helping the mother clean, cook, and take care of the family. The way a mother spoils her sons became a tradition and has carried through to today.
A reason that this trend continues is because of the poor economic conditions that the younger generations are facing. Young students cannot afford to move out from their parent’s homes until they finish their studies, mainly because Italy does not provide financial aid to students.
So as a student you have two choices; you either live at home and attend university, or move out, work at a job and attend university, which would take forever to complete and pay off. There is a large population of young people in Italy who go to university, but after it is quite difficult to find a job. Graduates are struggling and emigration out of Italy is starting. People are moving to where there is more money, and where people can further their education.
The poor economic state of Italy is also affecting the decline of the birth rate and the traditional values once present in Italy. Because the future is so unclear for many young Italians, people are having fewer kids, and there is a general insecurity of not being about find a job or keep one.
It is expensive to support a family, especially one with lots of children. When I asked Monica if she thought the value of family would decrease because of all these negative factors, she agreed that it already has. “People don’t get married anymore, they have less kids,” she said.
However, when talking to Luca, the older gentlemen, he thought something very different from Monica. “It is not the number of children that makes the family. The family is one and one. For me in my culture, one man with one women (or another man.) It is no different for me, but it is a family.”
Luca explained how he thought it was ridiculous that some feel that only children can define how much a culture values family. “They live with their loves, together and so they are a family… It is not the presence of a child that makes a family.”