3 Sociology professors look into parenting stress experienced by Syrian refugees

Melissa MilkieNeda MaghboulehIto PengWith fully 60 percent of Canada’s recent influx of Syrian refugees being under the age of 15, this group is largely composed of children and the adults who care for them. The parents or primary caregivers of these children face both the enormous tasks involved in acclimatizing themselves to a new culture and environment and the strains linked to the financial support, schooling, and care of children. Funded by SSHRC as part of a special call for research into the experiences of the Syrian refugees, research by Professors Melissa Milkie, Neda Maghbouleh and Ito Peng seeks to understand the parenting stress that these new Canadians experience.

The three professors recently presented some of the early findings at the Metropolis conference in Montreal. Reporting on 43 wave 1 interviews, preliminary findings show three major stressors that Syrian refugee mothers experience. First, a major stressor for most Syrian refugee mothers upon resettlement is the crystallization of deep losses – such as the separation from close family members like their own parents, who are unable, unwilling or are not chosen to be resettled in Canada. The extended family is thus not able to support mothers in the ways they may have in the past. Second, school stressors exist for some families, but are relatively minor and most often solved readily; and/or resources to solve school concerns are clear. Finally, although mothers feel a sense of mastery in their successful creation of physical safety for their children, they experience a powerful cultural stressor in their lack of control over their children’s distant but impending adulthood in a new land with different cultural standards and norms.

They will be presenting an invited panel at the Canadian Sociological Association meeting on May 31st.

Professor Boekmann and Milkie interviewed for story on working at home

Melissa MilkieIrene BoeckmannToronto’s Metro News recently interviewed both Professor Irene Boeckmann and Professor Melissa Milkie in a story about working at home. The story starts with a reference to a recent viral video of a dad being interrupted by his children during a BBC skype interview and goes on to discuss working from home. The full story is available here . Below is an excerpt:

Work-from-home parents more likely to be women: Experts

Experience of dad who went viral during BBC interview common for women who work from home while caring for young children.

If you spent more than a nanosecond online over the weekend, you probably saw the video of a toddler bombing her dad as he’s giving a live Skype interview with BBC News.

You also probably laughed out loud as the little girl bounced into her father’s home office, followed by a younger sibling in a walker, then their panicked mother who drags the kids out of the room. But for those working from home, that comedy of errors is all too familiar.

With many workplaces offering little flexibility as to when and where parents can work, and daycare costs continuing to rise, more parents are choosing to leave their careers to carve out new paths as freelancers or entrepreneurs.

More often than not it’s women, not men, who are entering this new fray: not quite stay-at-home moms, not quite working moms, but some sort of hybrid version of both.

Irene Boekmann, assistant professor in the department of sociology at the University of Toronto, says children are a big driving factor forcing women from work, and that this doesn’t tend to be the case for fathers.

“There is definitely an interesting gendered story here,” she said, pointing out that mothers with younger children are more likely to work from home than other women. “Research shows that children increase Canadian women’s (but not men’s) likelihood of self-employment.”