THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"He's Got to Become Independent"

Sara lives in Rome and has three boys. She nursed them all for 3-4 years; in other words, until they decided of their own accord that they no longer needed the comfort of their mother's breast.

Today, they are aged between 15 and 28: They're smart, healthy and -- most of all -- independent.

Sara loves telling the story about her eldest, Lorenzo, who moved from Rome to Milan to go to university. And then stayed on in Northern Italy once he found a job there.

When Lorenzo was three years old, and had recently been joined by a baby brother, Sara's neighbors pushed her to send him to kindergarten. He was too attached to his mother and needed to learn at all costs how to become independent and how to socialize with other kids.

Sara tried, but he refused point-blank. There was no way he could be cajoled into trading his home and his mummy for teachers and school mates. Sara accepted his choice.

When he was five, Lorenzo happily went off to elementary school (and we can only assume the neighbors drew a great sigh of relief, clearly thinking It Was About Time). Everything went smoothly until Lorenzo's final school exams, at the end of which he decided -- of his own volition -- to attend university in Milan.

Those same Roman neighbors who had been so insistent about imposing independence on the child at the age of three, were aghast. They could not believe Sara would allow her son to go so far away (5 hours by car) at the tender age of 18 ...