To quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health interventions on parent and child mental health and family relationships, we examined change in individual and family functioning in a sample of parents enrolled in a prevention trial; we examined change before the pandemic (2017–2019) when children were an average of 7 years old to the first months after the imposition of widespread public health interventions in the United States (2020) with paired t tests and HLM models. We examined moderation by parent gender, education, family income, and coparenting conflict. We found large deteriorations from before the pandemic to the first months of the pandemic in child internalizing and externalizing problems and parent depression, and a moderate decline in coparenting quality. Smaller changes were found for parent anxiety and parenting quality. Mothers and families with lower levels of income were at particular risk for deterioration in well-being. Results indicate a need for widespread family support and intervention to prevent potential family “scarring,” that is, prolonged, intertwined individual mental health and family relationship problems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)