Building Family Resilience in the Wake of a Global Pandemic: Looking Back to Prepare for the Future

Heather Prime, Froma Walsh, Ann S. Masten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Families’ lives were severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a reconfiguration of daily routines and rituals, an elevation in daily social, educational, and economic stressors, and, for many, traumatic loss due to COVID-associated deaths. Families facing adversity can effectively adapt and forge positive growth by coming together to connect, problem solve, and foster a positive outlook, while also drawing on support from kin, social, community, sociocultural, and spiritual resources. We describe the stressors experienced by families during the pandemic, including the ongoing fallout of the pandemic and associated economic stressors. We discuss implications for families to prepare for future disasters, particularly the anticipated threats posed by climate change, in order to build the adaptability and resilience they will need to thrive. We propose that applying a research-informed family resilience conceptual framework can help us learn from the pandemic experience to prepare for a challenging and uncertain future. To bolster family resilience, it is crucial to provide accessible and familycentred mental health care and support. We provide a rationale for focusing on coparenting processes, or “collaborative parenting,” broadly defined to encompass diverse family systems, to foster strong family functioning and positive child development. We present two programs that aim to support coparenting as examples of strategies designed to build families’ capacities for resilience. In summary, we draw lessons from the pandemic to guide preparations for the future, with a lens focused on empowering and strengthening families, while also considering the systems in which they are situated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-211
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Canadian Psychological Association


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • climate change
  • coparenting
  • family resilience
  • family-based intervention


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