On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about worldwide challenges and had a profound impact on family dynamics, relationships, and routines. At the same time, the impact may differ largely due to regional differences in the numbers of infections and severity of preventive measures, as well as individual and contextual risk and protective factors. The aims of this special issue were therefore to (a) provide insight into the impact of the pandemic on the family system and (b) increase our understanding of how this impact may differ between families. This special issue consists of 13 original empirical studies that show how the pandemic affected families across different levels of the family system. At first sight, it seems that many families were able to cope relatively well with the stressors. Yet, for others the demands of the pandemic and pandemic-related measures seemed to exceed their capabilities and available resources. Importantly, the studies in this special issue suggest that the pandemic disproportionally affected children, caregivers and families who were already at risk. Together, the contributions to the special issue offer knowledge on the consequences of both the pandemic and preventive measures on family functioning. At the same time, it also raises questions on the long-term impact of the pandemic and its impact on families who are currently underrepresented in empirical research.
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