The Trauma Of Having A Parent With Bpd
Having a parent with BPD, a BPD mother or father, can bring unspeakably painful trauma Because of their immaturity and instability, they may stop you from separating from them, suppress your emotional expression, and hamper your development and growth. However, having a parent with BPD does not mean you are destined to the same fate. You absolutely have the strengths and freedom now to free yourself from the cage of control and engulfment, and to reclaim freedom and health.
Does your BPD father or mother often have exaggerated emotional responses? Could minor incidents set off disproportionate reactions like an angry outburst?
Have you been consciously or unconsciously trained from a young age to tip-toe around your parents, or to mind-read what they are thinking, to not provoke an emotional spiral?
Do you feel that your parents vilify you for seeking autonomy? Either explicitly or in a roundabout way, do they make you feel guilty for having to leave home or having an opinion of your own?
Do they often think in black-or-white terms? For example, when something negative happens, do they either blame you and make you the enemy, or they create a scenario where it is you-and-me-against-the-world?
Have you always had to suppress or hide your thoughts and emotions for the fear of upsetting your parent? Do they always shut down the expression of authentic feelings? Were you ever allowed to be angry, upset or disappointed at them?
For Most Children Mom Is A Safe Home Base
She is the lap you come home to and the lap you push off from. In the developmental dance from dependence to independence, a daughter needs Mom as a solid base of support- a mature version of what she hopes to become.
Ideally, Mom is the one who can make it all better when the world gets too scary.
What Parenting Challenges Are Specific To Mothers With Bpd
One of the challenges faced when studying this topic area is how to disentangle parenting practices that might be unique to mothers with BPD from those that are related to other forms of psychopathology, such as depression. From the studies reviewed, we posit that maternal parenting strategies characterized by oscillations between over-involvement and under-involvement to be specific to mothers with this disorder. We view these oscillations as extreme forms of inconsistencies. Inconsistencies in emotion socialization practices as well as in discipline and monitoring strategies appear to contribute to the development of BPD . Mothers with BPD may oscillate between over-involved, intrusive behaviors and withdrawn, avoidant behaviors. These behaviors may also manifest as oscillations between hostile control and coldness. For example, mothers with BPD reported more neglectful and punishing responses to their adolescents emotional displays, even when controlling for current depressive symptoms . These same mothers also reported almost equal amounts of reward, a supportive emotion socialization strategy compared to depressed and healthy control mothers, suggesting that mothers with BPD may be more inconsistent in their emotion socialization strategies. Over time, this inconsistency may lead their adolescents to deny or question their emotional responses increasing the potential for emotional vulnerability and further invalidation by others or self.
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Outcomes During Infancy And Early Childhood
Three studies have been conducted using infants of mothers with BPD . Newman and colleagues found that infants of BPD mothers aged 3 to 36 months were less attentive and less interested in interactions with their mother during a free-play interaction compared to infants of healthy control mothers . The authors speculate that this could lead to avoidant interaction patterns between the children and their mothers. The still-face paradigm has also been used to examine infant outcomes. Crandell and colleagues found that during the still-face paradigm, 2-month old infants of mothers with BPD demonstrated more dazed looks, more gaze aversion, and less overall responsiveness toward the mother than infants of mothers without a psychiatric disorder. The authors interpreted these results as suggestive of emotional dysregulation in the face of an interpersonally stressful situation. Furthermore, after the still-face paradigm, the mother-infant dyads showed less recovery in their interactions as the infants continued to show increasing negative affect and less-satisfying reengagement with their mothers. When this same group of infants was 12 months old, 80% presented with behavioral patterns consistent with disorganized attachment to their mothers . Infants were rated as having more behavioral disorganization and poor mood toward a stranger when engaging in the still-face procedure. Recovery time from the still face procedure was longer, suggesting greater affective dysregulation.
What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder
A child can experience her feelings only when there is somebody there who accepts her fully, understands her, and supports her. If that person is missing, if the child must risk losing the mothers love of her substitute in order to feel, then she will repress emotions. Alice Miller, Ph.D.
BPD is, in my clinical opinion, a trauma disorder.
More specifically, a relational trauma disorder.
What do I mean by this?
Overwhelmingly, research suggests that BPD patients have a history of childhood trauma.
As we know, childhood trauma can manifest in a wide variety of ways depending on the context of the circumstances, the individual who endured it, and the resulting help and support that individual received in the years ensuing the adverse early beginnings.
Sometimes, this trauma can manifest into a constellation of symptoms and responses that align with the criterion of BPD.
And when it does, it can have big impacts on the children of the sufferer.
However, its at this point in the article that I want to say something I feel personally very strongly about: this article is not meant to demonize mothers who have BPD traits or who have been formally diagnosed with BPD.
This article is meant to explore, not to cast stones.
Its meant to evoke curiosity, not to chastise.
Always and in all circumstances, I strive to hold a compassionate lens and to ask the question: And what would have led someone to behave and be in this way?
Its not either/or, its both/and.
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Having A Parent With Bpd And The Psychological Consequences
When you have a BPD mother or father, the foundational structure that is required for healthy development is destabilized. Your parents hyper-reactivity, rage, and mood swings make focusing on your growth as a young person impossible. Often, the turbulent and imbalanced relationship with your parent continues to affect you well into adulthood. Here are some ways in which having a parent with BPD can adversely affect your life:
Are Children Of A Bpd Parent At Risk Of Developing A Mental Health Condition
While symptoms and their severity vary, research² shows that a child who has a parent with BPD is at greater risk of developing a mental health condition themselves, including the same disorder.
While the exact cause of borderline personality disorder is unknown, it has been shown that genetics, brain structure, and brain function also play a role as well as environmental, social, and cultural factors.
Symptoms of BPD typically begin during early adulthood and include an unstable sense of identity, difficult and strained relationships, and self-destructive behavior. In many ways, these issues are related to what a child experiences throughout their childhood when they have a parent with BPD.
If you have a parent with BPD, its important to remember that you wont necessarily end up with the same condition. This is why it is important to establish boundaries between you and your parent, seek help, and safeguard your own mental wellbeing.
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Learn What You Cant Change
As BPD is commonly diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood, many of the unhealthy behaviors of a person with borderline have been nearly lifelong. There may be a genetic component to BPD. If your parent was raised in a toxic household, they are likely to view their actions as normal, as thats how their parents acted.
You cant change the way your mother or father reacts to stress or the ways they chose to deal with it. If you criticize their spending habits, dangerous lifestyle, or treatment of others, its likely to spark an argument or mood swing.
Effects Of A Parents Borderline Personality Disorder On Kids
Parents have some BPD traits that are problematic for their children, including these:
- Extremely low sensitivity to a childs needs, moods, and more
- Difficulty interpreting and properly responding to their childs emotions
- An intrusive, overprotective parenting style and
- An unresponsive, unemotional parenting style and
- An angry, hostile parenting style
- Dissatisfaction with their own children and life in general
- An unwillingness or inability to encourage attachment, bonding, and love
Children raised by a parent with BPD experience risks and consequences, such as:
- Negative attitudes disrupting interactions with others
- Attachment problems
- Poor relationships with their parent
- Fear of abandonment
- Inability to make and keep friends
- Very low self-esteem
Having a parent with BPD hinders childrens healthy development. Happily, there are things parents with BPD can do to make parenting more successful.
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Get Help Coping With A Borderline Parent
Learning how to cope with the complicated relationship dynamics with your borderline parent is difficult, but you dont have to do it on your own. It helps to understand the symptoms of BPD and the potential triggers. If you need help or would like to help your parent get help, contact us.
DAmore Healthcares Executive Management Team offers multiple treatment programs to help you find sustainable recovery solutions.
The Impact Of Bpd On Parent
Borderline personality disorder can make any relationship challenging, especially one between a parent and their child. In this scenario, you as the child are typically the most seriously affected.
When your parent has BPD, it can interfere with normal, healthy parenting behaviors as well as the dynamics between you both. The implications of this can be far-reaching, affecting many aspects of your life now and as you get older.
Feelings of worthlessness and shame
Studies¹ show that people with BPD can react with intense anger which sometimes results in verbal attacks that are upsetting and devaluing, especially for children.
Your parent may be quite volatile for example, they might be deeply loving and supportive towards you one minute, then react with an angry emotional outburst the next. You may feel like you are constantly being blamed for things, which might make you feel responsible for your parents behavior. You may also find it challenging to develop confidence and a strong sense of identity.
Your parent with BPD may have challenging attachment issues towards you which affect how they treat you. For instance, they may become angry and upset whenever you leave the house, perhaps to go to school or work. If you go on an overnight trip, this may lead to severe distress and trigger their BPD symptoms.
Codependency between you and your parent
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Healing From Borderline Personality Disorder
Despite the extraordinary level of distress experienced by children of mothers with BPD, many are reluctant to acknowledge these experiences to othersor even to themselves. Revealing the truth about your mother can seem like a betrayal, particularly if your mothers illness has conditioned you to feel responsible for her emotional state and behavior. Even Alex, a young woman who uses to share her experiences of growing up with a mother with BPD, says I dont want to make my mom look like a monster. This protective instinct can keep you silent and isolate you from the help you need. Some even internalize their mothers criticisms and rejections and blame themselves for her damaging behaviors. Recognizing the impact your mother has had on your life is necessary to understanding your own suffering and relieve feelings of guilt, disorientation, and shame while her actions may not be malicious in intent, their devastating effect on your development and ability to navigate the world must be examined to allow healing to begin. It is only by exposing the roots of your emotional obstacles that you can remove them and move forward with your life.
Either Way Living In The Emotionally Upside
If so, without intervention, this relationship template from childhood can stay with you for a lifetime.
A Mother with untreated BPD, otherwise known as a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder, will most likely have trouble adequately meeting the demands of parenting. Without treatment, her disorder can threaten to deplete her of the stability, resilience, and maturity to be the central support every child needs.
And daughters, especially the attuned, sensitive daughter, are at risk of taking on the role of the good daughter.- working to make sure Mom is okay and okay with her.
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Personality Disorders Are Very Difficult To Handle For Children With Borderline Parents Adults Raised By Bpd Parents Struggle With Many Facets Later In Life
When dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder, areas of deficits tend to include identifying appropriate relationships with other people, regulating their emotions, and tolerating distress easily. Imagine being a child or adolescent walking around your own home everyday as if you were walking on eggshells hoping not to set off mom who has BPD. Mom is always unpredictable and you never know what mood she will be in today. Mom manipulates you and forces you to feel guilty for every sense of abandonment or discouragement she feels. As you grow up, it leads to becoming hyper vigilant, anxious, and even angry or resentful toward her. Depending on the dynamics formed in the relationship, either estrangement or enmeshment occurs where the attachment between your mother and you have never been at the appropriate level. You have grown up taking on the role of parenting your mother and you still might in that position today as an adult. The question poses when will you start setting healthy boundaries for your life?
Whether you or someone you know is struggling with a parent diagnosed with BPD, continue reading to better understand parental behaviors and get answers how to handle any future situation with the struggling parent.
If you or loved one is suffering from a Personality Disorder, be sure to share this information on how to manage child-parent relationships.
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Psychoeducation Regarding Childhood Development
As discussed previously, we think that mothers with BPD may first need basic psychoeducation on appropriate developmental tasks and expectations. Many mothers are unfamiliar with appropriate developmental milestones and may have difficulty coping with the normal behaviors of infants, children, and adolescents. This may lead to maternal stress and a failure to meet the child’s needs. By learning what happens as an infant grows into a toddler and a toddler into a preschooler, mothers can be better prepared for the challenges ahead and develop reasonable expectations given the child’s current developmental state. For example, mothers with BPD may believe that the cries of their infant daughter or son reflect that they are a bad parent. Basic psychoeducation on an infant’s needs and cognitions may alter these beliefs and create a more positive relationship between the mother and child. Mothers may benefit from psychoeducation regarding basic parenting skills and positive parenting, such as how to get a child to go to bed, how to manage feeding, and non-physical discipline strategies. Learning this information may help the mother take on the childs perspective and mothers may find it beneficial to know what signs to look for in the growth and development of their children. With the help of a therapist, mothers can assess and celebrate their child’s growth and development.
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When You Have A Borderline Mom You Can Have Trouble Trusting Your Judgment
When it comes to making decisions Im always second-guessing myself. I cant trust Ill make the right decisions when it comes to relationships.
Here is how this happens-
In early life, we look to our mothers to mirror our effect on them. Depending on our experience, we form an attachment template that we then extrapolate onto other significant relationships. In other words, we expect all close relationships to work similarly.
When Mom experiences you as her heroine one minute and the villain the next, you cant trust that you have a good handle on what to expect from others. And given your experience, how could you?
You have trouble trusting your judgment when you have a BPD mother.
What Parenting Mechanisms Are Involved In The Transmission Of Vulnerability
Despite its place as a major construct in Linehans theory, the role of parental invalidation in the transmission and development of BPD remains largely untested. In normative samples, parental criticism or invalidation of childrens emotions has been associated with social and emotional difficulties in early childhood and psychological distress in adulthood . Based on this theory, we hypothesize that mothers with BPD may invalidate the emotions of their children, especially when the mother inaccurately perceives these emotions. This may in turn lead to children who deny or question their emotions and emotional responses. This chronic invalidation of emotional experiences may disrupt the adaptive development of emotion processing systems. It is likely that mothers with BPD, as a result of their own difficulties understanding their feelings, lack of skills to manage their own emotions, and their own childhood history of parental invalidation would have a hard time modeling appropriate emotion socialization strategies. Mothers with BPD may thus teach their children maladaptive ways of expressing and managing emotions.
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