Mummy hotels, daddy banks – but what makes one an adult?
What do the experts say?
Becoming an adult is the sum of a variety of characteristics. On the one hand, there is the physical definition, sexual maturation, there is the psychological aspect (e.g. one is able to make their own decisions) and there is the sociological aspect. This means that the individual is self-sufficient, leads their own household and last but not least, they are economically and not only emotionally independent from their parents.
Researchers like to use the expression 'mummy hotel, daddy bank' (you will have surely heard these words before that are used to denote young people who depend on the care provided by their mothers and the financial help from their fathers) that describes more and more youngsters in Europe. The date of moving out and of starting to earn an independent salary gets postponed and therefore, young people start families later as well. In the comfortable mummy hotel, they have everything they might need. They do not have to spend any money on rent, pay bills, the fridge is always full and hot meals never fail to await those who are not inclined towards an independent life. To complement this, the daddy bank provides financial stability: there is always somebody to turn to in case money, a holiday or a car is needed.
European tendency: neither in, nor out
However, this tendency is not only present in Hungary, but all over Europe. In the chart below, you can see at what age people normally move out from home in the different countries of the European Union. It has been revealed that it is the Croatians and the Maltese who enjoy remaining in the family nest for the longest, while the Swedish and Danish prefer to become independent the soonest.
In most counties, young people between the ages of 15-24 do not move out for a variety of reasons. Amongst the indicated causes is the impossibility to become independent because of financial reasons, the unavailability of appropriate housing and the factor that the parents are not strict enough to tell their children that their time at home has come to an end.
Tamás Vekerdy summarises the phenomenon in the following words:
"Physical maturation happens earlier, but it is not always followed by mental and emotional maturation. Today the birth of the first child is pushed to a later stage, when the parents are already in their 30s. This is becoming more and more common an there are quite a few people giving birth above 40. Boys mature even later. This is the social puberty: the independent state of youngsters is reached later. The young person lives in a mummy hotel: while they live separately, it is still their mother who does their washing and cooking for them."
And digging even deeper...
The process of developing an independent lifestyle has been investigated from different angles and some interesting outcomes have been revealed. If you look at the five categories that describe the stages of independence by László Vaskovics, you can learn which stage you are at:
- legal independence (it only means becoming an adult in the legal sense of the word)
- independence of the shared space (or in other words, moving out)
- financial independence (for example, through student jobs or other sources of income)
- the development of a constructive lifestyle (the ability to make independent decisions, e.g. the choice of a spouse, the control over actions)
- the development of an independent identity (irrelevant of moving out, young people often do not necessarily feel like an adult – however, at this stage, this process also takes place)
Adolescents only have a vague idea about the traditional institutions and processes of becoming an adult (family, choice of a profession, starting a job, having children, sexual relationships), whose primary source is the socialisation at the family and school level and whose secondary source is indirect reality (for example the media).
It is characteristic of the whole of Europe that young adults only manage to create an existence for themselves later than they were planning to: the access to the world of work is becoming problematic, fewer and fewer marital plans become a reality and children are often born out of wedlock.
To sum it up, it can be concluded that age does not determine who we can consider an adult – in this context, age is in fact only a number. There are people who never grow up, while with others it is the result of a shorter or longer process.
Written by: Mónika Holczer
Translated: Judit Molnár