Psychology, Department of


Learning from adversity: What the COVID-19 pandemic can teach us about family resiliency

Date of this Version



Family Process. 2022;00:1–18.

DOI: 10.1111/famp.12849

PMCID: PMC9880619


© 2022 Family Process Institute.

Link connects to full-text at PubMed Central


The present study aimed to characterize the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on families with preschool age children and to identify pre-pandemic factors that explained unique family experiences. We leveraged an ongoing longitudinal study of relatively well-resourced community families who had reported on family functioning prior to the pandemic and completed surveys 6 months after pandemic onset. Both parents of dual parenting households endorsed significant hardships as a direct result of the pandemic (e.g., disrupted family routines, challenges at work); however, families also reported aspects of flourishing (i.e., experiencing positive outcomes in response to adversity) such as spending more time together as a family. Families were prone to greater hardships and fewer opportunities for growth to the extent that parents were lower in psychological resources (i.e., greater stress and internalizing symptoms, poor well-being) and were not on the same page as a couple (i.e., interparental discord, low quality coparenting) prior to pandemic onset. Finally, greater pandemic hardships predicted poorer parental mental health, greater family dysfunction, and elevated child psychopathology, controlling for pre-pandemic levels. Parents who reported more family flourishing from the pandemic had a stronger interparental relationship. Results are intended to inform theories of family stress and family interventions that can be tailored to promote resiliency (i.e., adaptation to challenging life events) and prevent dysfunction when families face rapid change and adjustment and high degrees of uncertainty and stress.