PACT Research

Milkie, Melissa, Dana Wray, and Irene Boeckmann. “Creating Versus Negating Togetherness: Perceptual and Emotional Differences in Parent-Teenager Reported Time.” Revised and resubmitted to Journal of Marriage and Family. Preprint available on SocArXiv:


Objective: This study examines discrepancies between parents’ and adolescents’ reports of the quantity and emotional valence of time together.

Background: The question of how much time parents spend with children is vital to scholars and families. Although parents’ reports of time with children are taken as standard and reliable, assessing different family actors’ perspectives on time together may challenge this notion.

Method: This study examines reports of co-presence and emotions during daily activities from 15-to-17-year-old adolescents and parents with teenagers aged 15 to17 years using the American Time Use Survey (2003-2018). Perceptual discrepancies in time spent co-present are analyzed using time diary and subjective well-being data from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 Well-Being Modules.

Results: There are considerable perceptual discrepancies in the amount of time reported as together: The average gap between teenagers’ and parents’ reports is 6.7 hours per week – about the same as an entire school day. Though the perceptual gap is sizeable, the emotional one is not: both generations experience reported time together as more meaningful, happier, and less stressful than time apart, partly due to the nature of activities and presence of other people. Discrepancies in both the perceptual and emotional reports are patterned by parents’ employment and educational attainment.

Conclusion: Ultimately, generational position and social statuses shape perceptions of co-presence, in the form of “creating” versus “negating” classifications of togetherness.

Milkie, Melissa, Dana Wray, and Irene Boeckmann. “Gendered Pressures: Divergent Experiences of Housework Time Among Partnered Canadians.” Under review at Journal of Comparative Family Studies for a special issue on “Gender and Unpaid Work”.


In Western countries, men’s and women’s unpaid labor time has converged in recent decades, promising gender equality. Nevertheless, a stubborn gap remains. We extend stalled revolution perspectives by examining gender divergences not only in hours but in the everyday experiences of housework. With the 2015 Canadian General Social Survey (GSS) time diaries, we examine housework time and total work time among different-sex partnered women and men aged 25-64 years (N=6,878). Next, we ask whether housework time is associated with felt time pressures—feeling stressed, rushed, trapped, and unaccomplished in one’s daily goals – differently by gender. As expected, women do more housework than men; and more daily housework is generally associated with more pressures. Results show that women and men experience housework differently for two forms of pressure. For women, time spent in housework is more strongly related to feeling stressed than it is for men. In contrast, housework time is associated with feeling unaccomplished more so for men than for women. This indicates that in addition to gender divergences in the amount of time spent on unpaid work, there is an experiential gender gap. Husbands’ feeling unaccomplished in daily goals with more housework time portends a continued cultural mismatch between masculinity and domestic labor. Examining divergent qualities of domestic labor engagement extends conceptualizations of a stalled gender revolution.

Wray, Dana, Julia Ingenfeld, Melissa Milkie, and Irene Boeckmann. “Changes in Parents’ Time with Children in Canada over Three Decades: Contact and Childcare Time.” Manuscript in progress.

Abstract Research documents steady increases in parent-child time over the past several decades in Canada and around the Western world. Yet the measures used to investigate these changes focus narrowly on childcare – activities which comprise only about one-third of the total time parents spend in the company of children. Whether changes in parent-child time more broadly were driven primarily by shifts in parenting behavior or parental characteristics remains unclear. This study documents trends in parent-child time over three decades in Canada and examines the contribution of compositional and behavioral factors. It also explores changes in the types of activities parents engage in when with their children. Using six waves of Canadian General Social Survey (GSS) time use data (1986-2015), we trace changes in the quantity and distribution of parents’ contact time and childcare time. We use Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition to disentangle how compositional and behavioral factors explain trends in parent-child time. Parents’ contact time with children increased by 1.5 hours per day for mothers and one hour for fathers from 1986 to 2015. This increase was driven not only by childcare activities but also by housework activities when children are present. Changes in parenting behavior are the primary contributor to increases in parents’ time with children; compositional changes also contribute to fathers’ time. By illuminating a shift in parents’ behavior over three decades, this study expands knowledge on intensive parenting to include a more comprehensive understanding of parents’ daily life with children.