Since the late Ottoman period, the family has been considered the central element in the modernization process in Turkey. Believing that changes in such institutions as marriage, divorce, and fertility are indices of modern family and modern society, political elites formulated strong aspirations to change Turkish families along Western lines. Turkish families have been characterized by substantial changes in marriage, divorce, and gender roles over the past half-century. Although many explanations have been proposed for these changes, this study offers new explanations based on ideational influences. Our theoretical approach draws on the developmental idealism framework, which throws new light on ideational factors that produce continuity and change in family and demographic behavior.