As the COVID-19 pandemic has been highly stressful for parents and children, it is clear that strategies that promote long-term family resilience are needed to protect families in future crises. One such strategy, the Family Foundations program, is focused on promoting supportive coparenting at the transition to parenthood. In a randomized trial, we tested the long-term intervention effects of Family Foundations on parent, child, and family well-being one to two months after the imposition of a national shelter-in-place public health intervention in 2020. We used regression models to test intervention impact on outcomes reported on by parents in a standard questionnaire format and a series of 8 days of daily reports. We also tested moderation of intervention impact by parent depression and coparenting relationship quality. Relative to control families, intervention families demonstrated significantly lower levels of individual and family problems (general parent hostility, harsh and aggressive parenting, coparenting conflict, sibling relationship conflict, and children's negative mood and behavior problems), and higher levels of positive family relationship quality (positive parenting, couple relationship quality, sibling relations, and family cohesion). For some outcomes, including coparenting conflict, harsh parenting, and child behavior problems, intervention effects were larger for more vulnerable families—that is, families with higher pre-pandemic levels of parent depression or lower levels of coparenting relationship quality. We conclude that targeted family prevention programming is able to promote healthy parent and child functioning during unforeseen future periods of acute stress. The long-term benefits of a universal approach to family support at the transition to parenthood indicate the need for greater investment in the dissemination of effective approaches.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)