Melissa Milkie (002)

Welcome! I am Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto & Chair of the Graduate department. As a social psychologist impassioned with analyzing well-being in a changing world, I address research questions using interactionist, life course, and stress process models.

My research spans the areas of gender, family, culture, and mental health.

A central aspect of this research focuses on family stressors such as parenting strains & work-family conflicts, and how these link to health and well-being. Recent examples include 1) how feelings about time with children and relationships with and lives of adult children are linked to mothers’ and fathers’ mental health and 2) how parenting inequality links to relationship quality. A new grant project assesses Syrian refugee mothers’ well-being, stressors and supports as their children enter the school system in Toronto.

I also research meanings and experiences of family life, and how these have changed. Studies include children’s views of what makes mothers and fathers special, parents’ assessments of the division of child care, and adults’ views of their childhood experiences. Much of this work underscores how culture and social statuses like gender shape meanings about family experiences. 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. The research shows increases in married mothers’ and fathers’ time with children in primary activities and in “total time” with children. Other work examines how parents’ time with children relates to parents’ and to children’s well-being.

Another strand of my work focuses on cultural meanings, identities and media frames of social groups; including mothers, fathers, girls, African-Americans, and feminists. Recently published projects include trends in and meanings of 1) the “Mommy Wars” rhetoric in news media and 2) benefits of father involvement and blame for fathers’ low involvement with children as depicted in Parents’ Magazine (1926-2006).

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 teach include the Sociology of Mental Health, Social Psychology, and the Lives & Times: Socialization across the Life Course.

Curriculum Vitae