International Law

Italian Mom Gets Court Order to Evict Her Lazy Adult Sons

Out, big babies

The Guardian reports that a judge in Pavia, Italy, has sided with a 75-year-old woman who said she was sick of trying to convince her two sons to move out and sought an order evicting them. The two men, who are 40 and 42 years old, have until December 18 to get out.

According to the report, “[t]he proportion of Italian adults still living with their parents has long been high,” and having seen The Godfather a couple dozen times I can vouch for that. I guess some of them had their own places but they sure did hang around their dad’s place a lot. Oh, here are some actual facts: in 2022, almost 70 percent of Italians aged between 18 and 34 still lived at home. That percentage seems to have gone up in recent years along with the unemployment rate, so that may be understandable.

On the other hand, adults still living with their parents are sometimes referred to as bamboccioni, or “big babies,” because of the perception that some of them do it just to get free room and board.

That might well have been the case here, because both of these men had a job. Not only that, their mother said she was especially annoyed that her sons didn’t contribute to the household expenses or even do any chores around the house. (She described them as “parasites” in court papers, according to CNN.) Finally fed up, she filed a lawsuit seeking to have them evicted.

Still refusing to take the hint, her sons—the same sons who allegedly refused to chip in for household expenses—hired lawyers to fight for their right to lay around mom’s house and do nothing. They argued, according to CNN, that “Italian parents are required by law to take care of their children as long as necessary,” an argument that seems to depend heavily on the definition of “necessary,” if that word is even in the statute. (These reports don’t quote it.) Probably for that reason, the argument did not prevail.

There is a law imposing a “maintenance obligation” on parents, of course, and the judge noted that at least for a while, a demand to keep living at home could be “well founded.” But here, she held, “it no longer appears justifiable considering the two defendants are over 40,” and “once a certain age has been exceeded”—like, let’s say, the age of 40—”the child can no longer expect the parents to continue the maintenance obligation beyond limits that are no longer reasonable.” Nothing in the law gives “the adult child the unconditional right to remain in the home exclusively owned by the parents, against their will and by virtue of the family bond alone,” the judge wrote.

A lawyer for the big babies said they had not yet decided whether they would appeal the decision.

I’ve covered at least two similar cases in the past, one arising in Spain and the other here in the United States. Both of those stories were better than this one, I think, although those freeloaders were much younger than the Italians. There was the guy in New York who steadfastly refused to move out despite a series of amusingly legalistic written demands from his parents. He lost, too. See Thirty-Year-Old Man Evicted From Parents’ Home” (May 22, 2018). The Spaniard, who was 25, actually tried to strike first by suing his parents after they threatened to quit paying his allowance unless he went out and looked for a job. That backfired pretty spectacularly. See Man Who Sued Parents for His Allowance Instead Gets 30 Days to Move Out” (Apr. 27, 2011).

“Big baby” in Spanish would be bebe grande, but I don’t know if that term has caught on there yet.