Greek mother, the role of the Greek woman and mother today

Greek Mother

Who is the Greek mother? What is the role of the Greek woman – mother today and how does she bring her children up?

mother holding babyMuch has been written on the Greek mother, praising her self-denial for the good of her children, with humour, complaints or even anger at her over-protective and often stifling loving embrace.

The Greek mother has been a symbol and a power that has played a huge part in history, the heroic mother who sent her child to victory or death in the struggle for freedom. Her praises have been sung in literature, while she has been blessed by religion itself (Panagia, Our Lady – Mother).

Women’s vital role as mothers has been recognised in Greece since antiquity. Gaia, Mother Earth, was one of the most important deities, the personification of nature, which gives birth to the whole world.

In modern Greek society the mother remains the basic figure in the family and society, despite the great changes observed in recent years.

The Greek model of life

As the great Greek psychiatrist Thanos Askitis writes, “the Greek model of life was based on two axes: phallocracy and matriarchy. The man was the head of the family who kept the woman and only let her appear under his name, while the mother was the head inside the house, who nursed and brought her children up in her own way, which the father was often unaware of”.

Greek mother today

Many things have changed between 18 January 1953, when Greek women voted for the first time, and the present day. Today the modern Greek mother faces a huge challenge: how to balance her traditional role and her professional ambitions? How to avoid the nightmare of combining a the image of failed mother with the dream of a career?

As a result of this dilemma, in Greece there has been a rise in abortions by working women who are afraid that pregnancy may result in the loss of their job. Indeed, many employers ask prospective female employees if they are married.

The demographic problem our country faces has already assumed worrying social and national dimensions. The number of families with many children has dropped steeply. Greece has one of the lowest birthrates in Europe and is among the five countries with the lowest birthrate in the world.

As for bringing the children up, the usual solution is to enlist their grandparents. A much smaller percentage of working parents entrusts their children to a woman outside the family, with incalculable consequences on their upbringing and future psychology.

The state has a responsibility to undertake more actions for the support of the Greek mother, who is faced not only with the demands of modern life, but also often with the discrimination and prejudices of Greek society.

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