Abstract In this article, we examine U.S. and Italian parents' discourses on family time in parent-filled weekly activity charts and interviews with parents. Analysis indicates that in Los Angeles, California, parents talk about sheltering and isolating their nuclear family from the outside world and from everyday routine by creating special times and special activities for the nuclear family. In contrast, Roman parents' discourse allows for spontaneous times with the family that are diffused within routines and merged with other community members, institutions, and social spaces. We argue that differences displayed in parents' discourses are shaped by culturally specific orientations toward time, family, and individual versus shared responsibility. Through this cross-cultural comparison we contribute to the understanding of how local cultural models shape different ways in which parents interpret time spent in family and influence individuals' perceptions of their everyday lives. [family, time, responsibility, United States, Italy].