Melissa Milkie (002)Welcome! I am Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Chair of the Graduate Department and incoming President of the Work & Family Researchers Network (WFRN). I’m a social psychologist impassioned with analyzing well-being in a changing world–with a focus on gender, time use & health. I lead a grant project called Time Together and Apart: Clarifying the Family Time Paradox

The abrupt shock of the COVID-19 pandemic upended mothers’ & fathers’ lives; I analyze this in the book chapter: Changing Times: New Sources of Parenting Stress & the Shifting Meanings of Time With & For Children. This essay aligns with a central strand of my work on family stressors, work-family conflicts & well-being. I examine how feelings about time with children and relationships with and lives of adult children are linked to mothers’ and fathers’ mental health; how parenting inequality links to relationship quality; and how work-family conflict shifted during the pandemic. Another grant project assesses mothers’ well-being and mother-teen relationships among Syrian refugees settled around Toronto.

How do we experience family life, and how has this changed? Another key stream of my work centers on changing patterns & experiences of time. Our award-winning book, Changing Rhythms of American Family Life documents parents’ feelings about time and family life, and how mothers’ and fathers’ time with children and time in housework, paid work and leisure has changed over recent decades. Using time diaries, we show increases in mothers’ and married fathers’ time in child care as a primary activity. Married fathers’ total contact time with children also increased significantly. In related work, I  conceptualize Status Safeguarding” as mothers’ vigilant work to ensure children’s place in the social and economic hierarchy through acting as safety nets. I also examine how parents’ time with children connects to parents’ and to children’s well-being. Other studies examine children’s views of what makes mothers and fathers special, parents’ assessments of the division of childcare, and adults’ views of their childhoods. This work underscores how culture and social statuses like gender shape meanings about family across different eras.

Another final strand of my research focuses on cultural meanings, identities and media frames linked to social groups; including mothers, fathers, girls, African-Americans, and feminists and how these frames influence us. Recent projects include 1) the “Mommy Wars” in news media and 2) changes in depictions of the benefits of father involvement and blame for fathers’ low involvement with children in Parents’ Magazine (1926-2006).

I address research questions using interactionist, life course, and stress process models. My research is published in Social Forces, Society and Mental HealthJournal of Marriage and Family, American Sociological Review, Social Psychology QuarterlyGender & Society and more. Courses I’ve taught include the Sociology of Mental Health, Social Psychology, Research Methods, and Lives & Times: Socialization across the Life Course.

Curriculum Vita