Structure and values of the modern Greek Family

modern-greek-familyThe modern Greek family, much like its ancient predecessors, remains a cornerstone of societal structure and cultural identity in Greece, albeit evolving significantly over time. T

The Greek family, while undergoing significant transformations, continues to be defined by its resilience, adaptability, and the enduring importance of family bonds.

Economic challenges and social changes have tested these structures but have also reinforced the value of family as a source of support and identity. As Greek society continues to evolve, the family unit remains a dynamic and vital institution, reflecting the complexities and enduring strengths of contemporary Greece.

Historical Context

To understand the modern Greek family, it’s essential to consider its historical context. Traditionally, Greek families were patriarchal, with extended family living together or nearby, forming tight-knit communities. This structure was not only a social but also an economic unit, with family businesses passed down through generations. However, the 20th century brought industrialization, urbanization, and significant emigration, which began to shift these traditional structures.

Contemporary Structure

In recent decades, the Greek family structure has continued to evolve. Nuclear families have become more common, especially in urban areas, reflecting broader Western trends. Yet, despite these changes, Greek families maintain a close-knit structure, with strong bonds across generations. It is not uncommon for young adults to live with their parents until marriage, partly due to economic reasons and partly due to the value placed on family unity.

Economic Influences

The economic landscape in Greece, particularly the financial crisis that began in 2009, has had a profound impact on family life. The crisis underscored the importance of the family as a support network, with many relying on their families for financial assistance and emotional support during difficult times. This period also saw a resurgence in the importance of family-owned businesses and the pooling of resources within families to weather the economic storm.


Core values within Greek families include filotimo (a complex concept involving honor, dignity, and respect), hospitality, and solidarity. Respect for elders is paramount, and caring for aging parents is considered a duty, often taken on without question. Education is highly valued, with a strong emphasis on academic achievement as a pathway to success.

Religion, predominantly Greek Orthodox Christianity, also plays a significant role in shaping family values and traditions. Religious holidays and ceremonies are often family-centric occasions, celebrated with elaborate meals and gatherings.

Social Changes and Challenges

Social changes have brought about shifts in attitudes towards marriage, gender roles, and family planning. There is a trend towards marrying later and having fewer children, influenced by economic considerations and a desire for personal development. The role of women in the family has also evolved, with more women pursuing careers alongside raising a family, supported by a slowly changing distribution of domestic responsibilities.

The modern Greek family faces challenges such as balancing traditional values with modern realities, navigating economic instability, and adapting to social changes. However, the adaptability of Greek families, rooted in strong kinship bonds and a collective spirit, has enabled them to maintain their central role in society.