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When a loved-one has traits of Borderline Personality

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Are the Children of a BPD Parent Likely to Suffer Emotional Abuse?

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The short answer is "yes." Do you know a mother who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder - possibly your daughter in law - your wife - a friend?  Did you know that even when the family appears to be doing well and the child appears to be overachieving, the children may be suffering psychological damage that will affect them far into adulthood.

Many BPD sufferers work very hard at being good parents. However, BPD thinking and behavior patterns can lead to problematic parenting in several ways. For instance, a BPD sufferer is prone to black and white thinking, which can lead a parent to "split" one child--or the same child at different times--as “all bad” and thus deserving of punishment and another as "all good." In "all bad" child suffers never learns human bonding. An "all good" child is not given a chance to develop a normal sense of independence and identity as the parent idealizes, rescues, or turns to the child for support.

High-Risk Parenting

Thus, a sufferer’s ways of coping can become a source of neglect such as when addictive behaviors distract the parent, leaving the child untended or abuse, with impulsive behaviors and rages resulting in emotional and physical scars or inconsistent parenting leaving the child feeling confused and unsafe. Experts consider parents with BPD to be "high risk":

Even the act of care giving itself may trigger painful memories from the mother’s history of trauma, making it very difficult for the mother with BPD to cope with the daily challenges of parenting (Main, 1995). These triggers often cause her to engage in maladaptive, “frightened/frightening” behaviors, whereby the she is both frightening to the child and frightened herself at the same time (Holmes, 2005; Hobson, et al, 2005). In this way, mothers with BPD are often classified as “high risk” parents (Newman & Stevenson, 2005), at risk of child abuse and/or drastically overprotective behaviors. (From How a Mother with Borderline Personality Disorder Affects Her Children)

A child who is faced with a frightened parent will often, in a reversal of a healthy parent-child interaction, try to provide comfort or to solve the problem for the parent. The child is parentified, trying manage situations beyond his or her maturity. At the same time, the child's own fears are not soothed. The result can be a highly anxious child who tries to be "perfect" but ultimately turns to destructive coping strategies like eating disorders, drugs, and addictive relationships to deal with buried fear and self-esteem issues.

What Can a Concerned Adult Do?

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other caring family members come to Coping with Parents, Relatives, and Inlaws with BPD concerned about the interactions such as these between the BPD sufferer in their life (perhaps the children's mother, father, stepfather, or stepmother) and the children. They may feel that something is wrong or they may know the actions are wrong, but they don't know how to intervene.
can provide education, support, and tools as to work toward improving the lives of the children with a parent with BPD. Members find shared ideas and resources on Parenting and Co-Parenting, along with numerous articles and workshops discussing ways of supporting kids with a BPD caregiver and effectively meeting their needs. The Parenting board is also a place to get much needed emotional support from others who really do understand the challenges of trying to offer kids the best environment possible. Depending on the relationship to the child and the severity of the problem, there is as lot a concerned adult can do, including:
  • Ensure the child’s physical needs are being met.
  • Take the child out regularly for some “down” time.
  • Reassure the child that the mistreatment is not his/her fault.
  • Teach the child healthy coping mechanisms, like thinking of a happy place or time when things are difficult or to focusing on breathing and counting to 10 when angry.
  • Provide counseling for the parent and the child.
  • Talk—and listen—to the child.
  • Validate the child’s feelings and sense of reality. If a BPD parent says the child is “not cold” when the child has said he is freezing, say, “I think he is feeling cold. I’ll get a sweater for him.”
  • Find ways to check regularly on the child’s well being.
  • Reduce the amount of time the child spends alone with the stressed parent. Offer alternatives, such as to babysit or pay for activities.
  • Create small rituals of security and happiness. Go to a park every Saturday. Take the child grocery shopping and let her choose one small treat.
  • Remove the child to safety.
  • Call a child abuse or domestic violence hotline or 911.
  • If you are not the child’s parent, consistent with your own safety and need for boundaries, stay in the child’s life to the greatest extent possible.
  • If you are the child’s parent and you feel that you must look at all options to protect your child, consult with an experienced family law attorney and a counselor to map out a plan.
Author: BlackandWhite

Write comments
  1. I only get my girls everyother weekend. My x inlaws have them and they keep them in a bubble. I tend to give them more freedom, maybe more than I should-but I just want them to see what real life is like. And I do ask for there opions and I tell them everything. I talk to them as if they were an adult. Is that bad?

  2. How can I as a grandparent stay in the child's life when the BPD mother uses him as a pawn and does not allow me to see him. Do I have any rights?

  3. I know this is hereditry right ? My daughter and ex husband have this. I am very concerned for my two grandchildren as my 10 yr old Grandson seems to be a very emotional little boy and he is also a bed wetter ! How can i get him help as his mother sees nothing wrong..It breaks my heart to think he is going to grow up with this problem when it can be treated, His mother, my daughter really doesnt seem at all concerned about the seriousness of it. Both sets of grandparents are very concerned for this child.. What can we do ?

  4. Speaking from my own past and what I went through growing up, talking to your children as if they are adults can cause many problems as they get older, and can affect them far into adulthood depending on their age. I don't think letting them see the world is bad, as long as they are supervised.

  5. I'm so disgusted. Maybe I'm just "splitting" right now, but I have BPD, and I'm tired of people INSISTING that my children will be damaged. Its a struggle every day to accurately evaluate each and every word that comes out of my mouth, and every situation to make sure I'm not over-reacting or hurting them with my crap. I Googled "being a parent with BPD" and the ONLY resource I've found is how to deal with the fact that your good-for-nothing mother dared to have her own psychosis. Not ONE person has EVER offered me any piece of advice to help me cope and parent my own children effectively, other than to demand that I relinquish my rights as a parent.

    You're basically insisting that even when it looks like a mother with BPD is busting her ass to do her job effectively, she's probably still abusing them somehow. That's garbage. And yes its "all bad". This is completely clueless garbage that doesn't offer the SLIGHTEST hint of advice for a very loving, very concerned, and very committed mother who wants real HELP.

    I'm over it. This is the new witch hunt. I will NEVER reach out for help again, because every single time I have, the threat of losing my children looms. And the fact that you take someone with an innate, over-whelming fear of abandonment, and encourage them to ABANDON their children, and then encourage her family to abandon HER...that's just cruel. It's ABSOLUTELY evil. There I go "splitting" again. I'm angry right now, and I'm tired of being DISCRIMINATED against for something that isn't my fault, and that I'm working my ASS off to change and overcome. YES, I have BPD. YES, I frequently find myself splitting and have a hard time "seeing the grey area" (which is code for pretending like things that are bad aren't that bad, or things that are good, aren't that good.) And you can brush me off, delete my comment, or use your awesome powers of deduction to claim that I must just be "splitting" when I say all of this, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, and I'm calling BS. I'm not advocating that anyone stay with an abusive person. But simply have BPD does NOT make me abusive. Nor does it mean I deserve to be abandoned by my family. And it certainly doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my own family. Shame on you. I will not be back. I will not seek your advice to help our family with our problems. And I won't get to view those ads you pay the bills with.

    Got BPD? Got kids, too? Well then you're abusing them. You need to abandon them, the way you were abandoned...that way 20 years from now, you too can be discriminated against on this website. Its truly a great business plan, when you really think about it. Crap. Pure. Unadulterated. Crap.

    1. I completely agree with you, I was diagnosed early July, not that its changed anything other than that I now understand who I am. But yes, I have BPD, i'm 26 and I have two sons, and I can firmly commend myself by saying, in the last 7 years I have done very well with both my children (one physically disabled and my older one with autism) neither have been taken away from me and have been complimented on my parenting skills. Yes I have my bad episodes, but I always maintain my childrens safety asap first. Just cause we have been given a label, doesn't mean we want to be treated like one.

    2. Thank YOU!!! I was diagnosed with BPD over a decade ago, and I now have 2 children. I was raised by a single mother who had BPD and was an emotionally and physically abusive alcoholic. I am happy to say my children are THRIVING and I no longer meet the criteria for BPD that I used to, and only have episodes few and far between. I have worked my butt off to take care of myself and my children, and have had too many people use the BPD excuse to treat me like crap. I am healthier than a lot of people I know that don't have a mental health "diagnosis."

    3. My bpd father would justify his feelings in the above manner when we was throwing me into the stairs, chokeslamming me in my bedroom, or hitting me with a ceramic plate as a child. I admire your intentions but if you go off like that every time you're perspective is questioned, you will screw up your kids.

    4. I agree with you thank you

    5. I sympathise with you. Though i must say, my life as a child looked normal but it wasn't. From the outer everything looked fine, but inside, there was a lot of abuse. Not at all saying you're doing anything wrong, but it definitely does happen. And many children with BPD parents suffer greatly.

    6. My horrifically abusive borderline mother sounded just like you. Fully of denial and constantly feeling persecuted. I feel for your kids and hope that they have someone in their lives to offer them some stability and teach them how to appropriately respond to their emotions.

    7. It's not crap. And it's not saying all BPD parents are abusive. It's not saying that you're fucking them up no matter how hard you try, that's just how you're taking it. I'm not trying to sound like a butthole but that's the truth. I was raised by a borderline mother who was emotionally abusive my entire life and I've actually found this very helpful in advancing my understanding. As an adult child of a BPD parent I do actually have some advise for you. Go to therapy. Please. Regardless of how well you think you can manage it on your own, it's hard on you (parenting, let alone life). I understand that. Therapy will not only allow you to work through previous trauma of your own but it will help you learn coping skills and better reactions to your stressors. DBT was helpful for my mom when she actually decided to go. I took a course as well and it helped me learn emotional regulation that my mom couldn't show or teach me and how to focus on the importance of interpersonal relationships. I think therapy is important for anyone with issues but especially parents with BPD. You cannot possibly get better with the stressors from everyday life and with the stressors of raising children without some help.
      Something I would strongly recommend is taking a course in child psychology. Or at the very least do some research about child development. From personal experience (as someone who has actual BPD tendencies due to the environment I was raised in), it helps to understand things. Personally, knowing why things happen and how certain things affect the thinking process help me to identify my own thoughts, reactions, stressors etc as well as my mother's. It can help to slow anger reactions as well because there's at least something there in the back of your mind telling you that what your brain is making you think isn't correct.

  6. @grasshopper33...your children are not adults. they need room to be free to experience life as children. they will have more than enough time when they are actually adults to have that experience. your role as a parent is to provide safe, positive, nurturing support for them and to offer as much guidance to help prepare them for when they do become adults to safely, successfully and healthily navigate the world on their own. until then, they are children who are learning from you and the world around them. dont expect them to be something they are not, and dont underestimate them simply because they are children.

  7. @anonymous.
    Hi, I can see that you are upset about finding so much information online about the problems children will have when there parent has BPD. I would be upset too if I was looking for help and only found people talking about the negative effects my BPD would have on my children. I do hope you find the support you were looking for as a BPD parent. I think it shows a lot that you are actually online looking for this support. I read that 60% of BPD sufferers can't acknowledge they have BPD. [This is different from simply being in denial of a condition, they actually are not capable of the acknowledgement.] To me, this shows a lot that you are here doing this. I wish my Mom would be capable of doing the same thing. My really hope that someday she will get the help she needs to feel better. It would be nice to see her happy.
    I'm glad you expressed your anger on this website. As the child of a BPD mother it is nice to see a BPD mother's perspective. I can imagine my mother reacting similarly to your reaction. I know you try your best. My mom does too. She tells me everyday how much she loves me, she sends me little text messages about her life and wants to hear about mine. She loves me so much, me and my siblings are the most important people in the world to her. She also has bad days, when people are evil and everything is wrong. After having grown up without knowing what was going on, I am so happy to have found some sort of an answer. It is a relief to learn about what is going on in my Mom's head and how a lot of the behavior and feelings I have now are largely due to the way I was raised. Knowing that this isn't all my fault, and that it isn't my Mom's fault either, that she just has BPD and there is something I can do about it has changed my life. Good luck with everything. Keep trying to be a better Mom, your kids will appreciate all the efforts you make. This is true for all parents, not just BPD sufferers.

    1. It's always nice to hear about kids with bpd parents. I'm a bpd mom of two wonderful little ones. I try everyday to make them feel important and loved. Sometimes maybe a bit too much. Unfortunately they do see my mood swings, and it kills me. Do you have any advice as the kid for the mom? I've told my 6 year old a little bit about bpd to try and help him understand it really isn't his fault. Did your mom tell you as a kid? Did it help at all? Thank you.

  8. RE: Anonymous: July 13, 2012 4:28 PM

    I am writing this in the hopes that you do travel back here and have a look.

    As a person living with a person whom I think has BPD, your words leapt off the screen and had a big impact on me. I have been trying to understand BPD for a couple years now. I think I do have a good understanding even as I struggle with it in my family - in part due to my participation in BPDFamily.

    This particular blog is directed at the family members impacted by a family member with BPD. And so it is going to focus on the steps that they need to take to help make things better in some very difficult circumstances. It doesn't have a goal of assisting those with BPD themselves, but I can understand your frustration in seeing all these actions to "deal" with "you" relative to your children.

    I think that it is very significant that you recognize that you may be/are in fact a person with BPD. A large number of people do not. I am therefore distressed by your comments that no one is offering you any help when you in fact recognize there's an issue. I understand that there are therapies out there that can help with BPD - Dialectical Behavioural Therapy - being one.

    I understand the anger and frustration that you must feel when others - with their own interests in mind - try to suggest you aren't capable of raising your children. Given though that you do recognize your BPD, I would encourage you to look to professional help - and the various therapies that are available.

    I am trying to work with and understand my wife, whom I believe to be suffering from BPD. I love her more than anything, nothwithstanding all of our struggles - struggles I know I have a part in contributing to. Your words reminded me of how she must feel and I thank you for them as a reminder of my need to act in as compassionate manner as possible.

    Good luck with your efforts and raising those kids.

  9. I have seen this "in action" and the consequences. My partner has been diagnosed BPD but in denial of it. but has been accepting of mental illness all her life OCD, anxiety and panic disorders. She was a single mum bringing up a son who is now 22. he was with her untill about age 10 then when to live primarily with his father. She has also cycled through alcohol abuse and prescription drug misuse. Much of this I believe was medicating away the BPD effects (undiagnosed at the time). The consequences of her behavour and general self focus, meant that often essential parental responsibilities were neglected. But when she was in caring role she was very caring. This I guess was a form of splitting on/off mode. Would make a great grandmother, but not reliable enough to ensure day to day stuff was covered in a responsible manner. her son was subjected to a lot of "issues" and left to do a lot for himself, often being the adult. Talking to him as an adult he says he just grew numb to it all. He doesnt seem to have any major issues but does hold grudges.

    I have brought two kids (teenagers) into this relationship and see them being used as scapegoats all the time. I keep them fully informed of the nature of the disorder. This makes them a more accepting and less judgmental nature to other people in general, but it is very hard for them to not feel resentment when it affects them constantly living under the threat of dysregulation and blame.

    I see it as workable in a co parenting role as long as all involved are fully aware of the disorder and are actively seeking to manage the whole interaction in a positive way. But if denial exists, or ignorance of the condition, and particularly in a single parenting role it could prove to be a very dysfunctional family unit, and prove quite damaging to those involved, both parent and children

  10. I divorced from my husband, who I now believe has BPD, 3 years ago. We have two children together, now 9 and 13. I have become increasingly concerned about both my children's emotional health. The divorce was obviously very difficult for them, but they seem to be getting worse rather than better as time goes on. My ex-husband idealises me and doesn't accept that we cannot be together. His version of the situation is that I have post traumatic stress disorder and doesn't know what is best for me. In his view we are made for each other and it is just a question of time until I come to my senses. In fact, God has also told him that we belong together! Who am I to state my view with such competition... My ex-husband shares his views with the children, and also his strong emotions for me. He prays with them that God will bring us back together. Recently I have found out that he engages in role play with my youngest child, which involves her 'hypnotising' him and in his trance he is to imagine that we are back together and kissing. Although I believe the game was initiated by daugther, I am concerned about this. I have shared it with a few friends who are seriously concerned about what he might do to them, but I struggle to determine just quite how serious the problem is. Enough to go down the harsh route of reducing access/restraining order? Or will a softer approach work? Talking to him I know won't work, as he is likely to make it out to be me who is getting it all wrong... Any advice?

  11. hi,i'm kylie, i have two gorgeous babies are currently residing in fostercare just now...i'm ashamed of having this bpd but i never give up hope...of fighting all i can to make everything better i'm starting a hub-programme and i will hope that this is a start to a new and wholesome happy contented life with me and my children learning how to manage my emotions and put feeling and thought into one self....i believe so much that because you have bpd you can change and mange and learn to handle any situation....just if you yhink first about what your doing and insighting into this is very important if your a believer you can change these thoughts and behaviours you just have to keep strong...people with bpd are not bad people...whatever reason they have bpd is not there fault...always remember that sufferers this is not your fault...always never give up hope you can beat this i miss my children so much i will never give up on how to help myself so i can be the best parent i can be for my angels i have in the past reacted in emotional way infront of my i realise this was emotional abuse to my children as they say you can never change the past but you can always change the future we all just have to think positive and i think we're not here forever so it's a good time now to have a fun happy life if a negative thought comes into your head push it aside with a happy one the more you think positive like this the easier it is to be positive and you really do feel better go far bpd peeps if we all work together we can beat this xxx

  12. I have BPD. I'm a wife & mum. It seems i've had this sentence for years but put it down to depression & drank to hide. Since i've stopped drinking 2 years ago, my mental health seems to have got worse because the drink was hiding it, it never got dealt with. Eventually i suspected i was more twitchy for a reason & was diagnosed earlier this year. I can't cope with it or any aspect of my life despite my daily efforts to stay afloat. I daren't voice my real deep thoughts & feelings incase i'm locked in a hole! What i can say is that i'm looking through these similar forums to find guidance from other BPD mums on how they are trying not to affect their kids as i can see it already that my 9 year will be affected! This shames me & panics me! How can i stop it getting worse??? Anyhow, i can't find ANYTHING that fits my catagory....WHY??? Surely there must be some BPD suffers or family members of suffers that are making head-way to feel more fixed than broken who may have some key tools to avoid screwing up a 3rd generation (to my knowledge). Depression is very much a thing in my family. I don't know how far back but there does seem to be a theme. My eldest is very much like me & my mum & feel that he doesn't stand a chance....and i NEED to change that. It scares me...i don't need to read about the bad out comes, i need positives so please, somebody, tell me that this all sounds very familiar & that you're enroute to 'fixing' the situation!! (p)

  13. My entire youth I watched my dad have his rages. Him and my mother would fight, every single day, no matter if they were in public or not. I remember begging them to stop and trying to play the mediator. My dad would tell me to shut the "F" up. My mom would be so involved in her own issues with him that me and my brothers were often left to find comfort among ourselves. She was extremely depressed and I believe neglectful as a result. As I got older I became more of the target instead of my mom. My dad would accuse me of doing horrible things like stealing, doing drugs or being promiscuous. Mind you I was an A/B student that was very involved with school (probably because I never wanted to be home. I wanted to please my dad and I thought doing excellent in school would make him proud and 'lay off' me for a while. No luck. No matter how great I did I was always a horrible person...I was selfish, evil, ungrateful, stupid, ugly and more. I spent a lot of time in my room crying and wishing that I would die.
    There were times, although not as often as his rages, that my dad would be kind. I was so confused by his moods but I desperately wanted the 'kind dad'. During these kind moods my dad would engage in conversation with me or take me and my brothers out to do something but just as fast as he flipped to Mr. nice guy he flipped back to hating me. I started to believe I was bad from a young age so even though I knew something wasn't right with my dad I truly believed I was the reason for it since that's what I had been told all my years. My dad would also have times where he would talk about "grown up" matters that I believe have scarred me to no end. My dad told me how he was promiscuous when young and made two girls get abortions, he told me about his drug use and what he did..... For a young girl who wants to look up to her father as a strong, protective force I was crushed to know these things that were totally inappropriate. My mother also told me things that were never for my ears. She would tell me that my dad cheated on her multiple times and caught STDs. She did this to have me on her side when she needed it only to later throw me to the side when things seemed ok for the moment between them.
    My dad continued his verbal abuse. He would threaten me and my brothers and often times call the cops on us as scare tactics to show us that he's in control. The cops would show up and listen to my dad rant about how horrible we are. The cops never investigated further with my family, even though the cops were called multiple times a month. If they did investigate they would know that my dad has a mental illness and his kids were being abused by him. No one saved us.When I was 18 I moved to another state. I was alone and much happier but I dealt with the issues of growing up the way I did the best that I could. I became an alcoholic. I also became bulimic and anorexic. I felt undeserving of food...praise or anything that was 'good'. I would drink until I passed out. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that I did this to drown my feelings. Once I became a mother I started my path into enlightenment. I go to therapy and work, every day, on being a good parent and a well adjusted person as a whole.
    My dad left my mom a few years ago for another woman. He actually called me to tell me he was cheating on my mom.....and for some reason thought this was appropriate. I told my mom right away. The last straw for me was when my dad insisted I accept the new woman he's with. When I said I needed more time to digest everything he became violent with screaming rage, harassing and threatening. I cut off all ties at that point.
    He still leaves messages on my husbands phone telling my husband negative things about me....hes threatened to get my husband fired or ruin our marriage. The nightmare will never end it seems. I feel broken and depressed but I am willing to work hard to live a happy life, free of the mental chains that my dad had placed me in.

  14. My partner, and the father of my young children has BPD, one of my biggest concerns is problematic parenting. A great point is raised here about the act of care giving may be a trigger for the pwBPD. In our case my partner is triggered by our daughters' outbursts of intense emotions, I think because he has trouble regulating his own emotions he finds it doubly hard when someone around him cannot control theirs.

    I have been able to talk to him about this when he is calm. Rationally he understands this, and has even gone so far as to connect it to his own parents not helping him to regulate and understand his emotions when he was a young child.

    We are also working hard to help our children regulate their emotions, and validate their feelings. When my partner is calm he is capable of this, but if it has been a bad day (like for all of us!) it is much harder!

    Love Blazing Star

  15. My siblings and I agree that our mother has undiagnosed BPD. It's an educated guess, backed up by the fact that the only things that have helped us deal with her are books we've read on parents with BPD. I love my mother and respect her. She's tried very hard and she obviously loves us very much, but yes, damage was done.

    For BPD parents looking for good advice, here it is, like it or not:

    1) the whole gray area thing? It's real. It's not a cop-out, it's not an excuse. Your kid is not all good or all bad, and if there's one thing you can try to do, it's to try to curb that kind of talk when dealing with them. If your children are asking you to stop doing a particular thing, they are not saying you are a purely evil parent with no redeeming qualities- they are asking for help. If they don't have the words to be specific, ask them to be specific. I can't tell you how many times I've had that discussion with my mother- where, "could you please stop doing ___" turns into a session where I end up denying that she's the worst mother in the history of motherhood, and she doesn't get the original point at all.

    2) I have to agree with the other Anon person who said that children need to be treated like children. My mother gave me a lot of information at a very young age that just wasn't appropriate, particularly about her divorce from my father. I think she thought she was respecting my intelligence, which is nice, but while I had the vocabulary, I feel like I lost emotional innocence long before I was ready to.

    3) Your kid probably loves you intensely and wants nothing more than to know what to expect from you on any given day. They're probably getting really good at reading your moods, possibly to the point of walking on eggshells. There's nothing wrong with giving them a heads up if you're having a hard time.

    4) The best times I had growing up were when my mother was absorbed in a project of some kind, like going back to school, or whatever hobby she had going on. It turned her laser-focus away from us, and gave her something to talk about that had nothing to do with our shortcomings. It was nice to see her grow as a person, too.

    I do have a relationship with her now, and things are probably going to improve with the siblings, too. She gets a lot of credit for good intentions, and for trying in spite of some really hard times. Sometimes she gets angry and feels like we're blaming her for our anxiety issues, but in the end we're all just trying to make it through life as best as we can.

    Good luck!

  16. Well said. Totally agree with you.

  17. I am a father of three sons. I am married to their mother but our lives are anything but normal. After 23 years the relationship is taking it's final gasps and something will change. Whether it is a change towards a healthy one or towards an end that we go our separate ways is yet to be seen. Our two oldest boys are grown but we have a 6 year old also and I am so very sad and I feel terribly guilty because he has developed several neurological tics that can be viewed as a barometer to gauge how well or poorly his mother and I's relationship is at that time. It is time I put his needs first!

  18. I'm a high school student. 17 years old. Idk if I have BPD because I haven't talkes to anyone yet about it,, but all of the symptoms seem to say so. My father cheated on my mother when I was just a little kid. I was there when my mom found out. In the middle of the night, my mother woke us up, she was very drunk, ang told us that we're going to go to a far place. When we reached the car, my father then woke up. They shouted at each other as me and my siblings were watching. My father told us to go upstairs an so we did. I watched them from afar as they cont fighting. My father punched my mother in the stomach and left. He didn't return for weeks. My mother started being an alcoholic. When my father came back, it was like nothing happened. They still stayed together until now, the only thing is It kinda feels like they are just acting.
    My mother always talks to me when she's drunk and tells me she loves me so much. She also tells me all of her problems, and so it also became my problem. She Is never sober. I always feel like I am the one responsible.
    As these things was happening in my house, my attitude to my friends somehow change. I started ruining and bad mouthing them until they left. For good.
    I had no one to talk to about my problems in my home and with my peers. I would always cry myself to sleep and when I'm at school, I didn't talk to anyone. Although I didn't wanna be alone, I also didn't want people to leave and the only solution for that is not to let anyone else in. I started to think about ending my life but my family goes into my mind.

  19. I am new to this site and I was so touched by this post. I have a husband with BPD and he also has a very hard time with our childrens (5 and 3) strong emotions. He feels we have to correct our 3 year old when he cries and that leads to him blaming me for not parenting tough enough. I have to figure out how to help him understand that 3 year old are supposed to cry and we have the responsibility to help them to calm and redirect their emotions to a positive one. wow, how will I endure.

    1. Hi, i realize you wrote this article 4 years ago, so i dont even know if you are ever going to see this reply but im hoping you can give me some advice. I have a 2 year old and 5 year old (well and 7 month old) with a man who i believe has bpd, he wont go to a dr, but his daughter (who is a few years older than i am, as him and i have a 30 year age difference) just told me she was diagnosed with bpd, so i feel my suspicions are comfirmed that he does as well. Anyway my 5 yr old is emotional, and my 2 year old is a 2 year old goin thru his terrible 2s,& thier dad although i know he loves them very much, has not very much patients with them and im also having a hard time making him understand that a 2 year old is normal to throw a tantrum if they dont get their way. He also blames me for not parenting tough enuough, what did you do? Are you still struggling with the same issues?

  20. Hi anonymous. I hope you don't kill yourself. What you had to go through is too much for someone your age, but it looks like you are reaching out for help, and you are a survivor. Reaching out on the internet is more than most people would do. (And you may not know it, but some of the people you pass in those halls are going through similar crap that they are hiding too. Someday it will all make sense, but it's hard when you're a teen with little money and independence and can't really be out on your own solving problems.) You are also a TERRIFIC writer. Is there a counselor at school you trust? I know, that may be a silly question, many of them are kind of useless. Maybe a teacher? Hmmm. I wish I knew you because I'd like to help. Let me say this - I am a professional writer who's published novels and I can tell that you really know how to communicate. Please don't end your life. Your talents and sympathy will be needed in the world, and there is so much out there for you to enjoy and love, once you are out on your own. You have plenty of time to find that out. And yes, if you end your life then your family will be devastated and feel guilty and sad. Just hang in there. It gets better, really.

    To the BPD parents: It is amazing that you are working so hard to raise your kids well. Please keep up the good work. All sufferers are NOT the same and the fact that you acknowledge the disorder already means you are probably a milder case who will do a great job of parenting if you stick with it.

  21. I believe the most therapeutic thing we do in life is to provide genuine care. This is especially important for developing children with high risk family dynamics. The opportunity to take the child out of the home for a brief respite can be altering to them. But, as other posters have noted, you have to navigate the parent with bpd in order to provide that care. There are some excellent articles on FtF regarding grandparents rights and how to use tools like SET to communicate more effectively and minimize conflict that would probably help.

  22. What I worry about - as a parent who's ex has BPD - is how she will affect our little one - I never set out to call her a bad parent, I just worry over her excuses for things and odd explanations for situations/occurances - communication is the biggest issue for us (lack of) as she constantly blames me for everything and thinks I'm trying to tack the little one away - rather than being proactive and letting me take the strain when she can't cope. Of course admission has to come first and whilst one report says she has it, another say's she doesn't but does have obvious mental health issues. So she's clinging on to the one that says she doesn't instead of accepting it and moving forward.

  23. I have a 2 1/2 yr old daughter and a boyfriend with ADD and BPD. I sometimes feel like I have a toddler and a stroppy teenager to contend with and at times it is very hard to see how I can keep everything afloat. My partner is very reliable on me. He forgets to take his medication now and then and this is when we hit rock bottom. We have episodes of drastic mood change and I take alot of emotional abuse. It is so hard when children are involved. My daughter loves her dad but should I be putting her through this? He has never been physically violent but his rage's are seen sometimes by her. I try to shelter her from everything but can only cope with so much. I have a medical condition down to the stress I have. I sometimes feel guilty at what I am putting myself and my daughter through by staying with him but he can be a good father and boyfriend. It is just those bad episodes. He is not currently working and neither am I. I am to go for a 'back to work interview' as they want my boyfriend to have my daughter full time and for me to go back to work as it would be easier to find employment for myself. This WILL NOT happen. I could not leave my daughter in my boyfriends care full time. It is very sad to say that I could not and would not do it to her. I understand how he is and why, she does'nt. She is only 2 1/2!

  24. Hi I've just discovered this site and live in the UK. I'm searching for answers to my husbands mood swings. I don't know if it is bi polar or bpd or narcissism. My mum was bpd I believe, I love her and she is very supportive and generous but it did scar me and I now have to wrestle with my own reactivity and anger issues. My dad was always quiet and never stood up to her behaviour. As a child I had to do the same so find myself fighting with my husband because as an adult I won't tolerate the same behaviour. He is a loving affectionate father though I'd like him to spend more time with his son. I don't know where he is on the scale or what to do as he doesn't believe in psychology. He needs to sleep a lot. So far moods are directed at me only but he has no boundaries so fights can take place in front of my son which I've asked him not to do. How do I get him diagnosed and help? I've been a gentle and attached parent to my son who is v emotionally literate and a joy. I'm dealing with my issues and trying not to get dragged into the crazy cycle with my husband each time but I need more stability in my marriage for my children as well. Our second is due soon. We have seen a few marriage counsellors in the past but I'm committed to finding a way to balance our family. Where can I get help and support? Thanks

  25. I am a mother of a 3 year old boy. I think I have BPD, but I am scared to get diagnosed, as I fear they may try to take him away from me... Or have social service on my case... Do you think this could happen? I had a lot of emotional abuse and neglect from my single mother when I was a child. As a teenager I put on an act of being normal, and even had some good friends who seem to like me (I really do not get why they like me). I did ok academically but I always drank a lot and did drugs, I just always wanted to escape the feeling of sober. I don't think I have had a day when I was sober since I was around 14...only when I wake up in the morning...somehow I did ok academically and ended up with 2 university degrees, I think it was party due to the intense fear of disappointing my mother and the abuse I would get from her if I ever failed...
    I am now in my 30s and I still smoke everyday and drink if I am on holiday. I am rarely trying to get drunk or off my face, I just do it to lessen the mood swings... All I want to be is a better mother to my little boy than my mother was, but I feel like I am failing at that as well... I try to be more understanding of his emotions and when he feels upset, but either I have spoilt him or he is damaged emotionally by me already- he is absolutely crazy with emtotions and so naughty, he doesn't listen to a word I say and has daily tantrums, people think I am too soft on him, but I feel it's my fault as I have damaged him emotionally. I feel so worried about him all the time...
    To make things worse I think my husband has emotional issues himself. He has ADD and is an addicted gambler. He spends no time in the real world and just gambles all day or talks online. His only time when he is in the normal word is when he spends time with our boy. He does this daily and is really calm and never ever loses his temper with him. With regards to me and him, we are just 2 people sharing a house, we have no relationship and he doesn't see how crazy I am in my head.
    I really want to be a better mum... Please if there is anyone here I can talk to.. Who understands... And if anyone could give me some advice, I cannot express how much it would mean to me... I have only realised that I maybe have BPD few days ago. I can list my symptoms if you like, but I don't see the point, I am intelligent and educated enough to realise that I have it.
    This site has been so helpful to me, I can't believe there are other people like me out there. Until today I felt so isolated and kept thinking I must be depressed.... But I don't feel depressed and I didn't fit the criteria... It's amazing to finally understand what is wrong... But I don't know what to do Witt this knowledge now...
    And also what would you advice me to do regarding my mother and my feelings towards her. I have always hates her (since I was a child) for all the emotional abuse I got from her, but I also loved her deeply and have always wanted to try to please her. This is still the same now I am 30! I am obsessed with trying to please her and constantly worry if she is not happy with me or anything I have said or done. I just want to constantly need reassuriance from her that I am doing ok. But she has no idea how badly I am doing in my head... I could never tell her that I think she has BPD and has messed me up when I was little... She would never accept it and it would ruin our relationship. Should I cut my ties with her or remain close to her? I love her so deeply but she causes me a lot of stress with her constant harsh critisms of everything I do and her mood swings...
    Thank you all for your help in advance... And sorry for rambling a bit :)))

  26. I am replying to all the mothers who are BDP. Give yourself the enormous credit of recognizing that you have BDP. Most suffers don't and therefore can't change. You can change, even if it is just babysteps. Seek counciling. Recognize when you are the hardest on yourself and family you are probably splitting. Even though I do not have BDP myself, I did grow up with a mother and sister who display BDP, I love my mother and recognize the love and sacrifices she has made for me. I also recognize that she received a much more abusive childhood than I received and that even though she was not perfect while I was growing up, I recognise the good she did as a parent, and forgive the bad. My relationship with my mother has grown as an adult, and she has been a wonderful grandmother who has grown emotionally over her life and has overcome much of her BDP over time.

  27. Hi everyone. I have been reading all your stories on bpd. Currently my child who is 2and 1/2 is in foster care. Since he was 1 yr old. Due to being in a domestic violence relationship. I have been diagnosed with bpd early this year. And been doing all I can to get my beautiful child returned.attended various course all of which have helped me. Had couselling since last year which has helped me deal with my childhood of being abandoned by my mother as a teenager and put into care. I have now gone private to access DBT therphy as nhs waiting list is too long. Am due in court next week for judges judgement if my child can return. I want my son, love hinged, can now safe guard him. Turned my life around. But local authority feel that people with bpd never change. Any advice

    1. Has your son been in the same foster this whole time? If so, then he'll have formed an attachment bond with them, and even if you are now the best mom in the world, he would be better off staying in foster care. Too many changes in caregivers can cause reactive attachment disorder, BPD, or other issues, and kids between 1-5 are at the greatest risk.
      If he has been in more than one foster home, or his current foster parents can't keep him, then you could provide him with a more permanent setting. However, keep in mind that he may have issues relating to the disruptions in caregiving he's already experienced.

  28. Dear Dasha, KEEP READING, THERE IS HOPE.. I am the child of a high functioning undiagnosed, untreated BPD mother. The abuse was horrific. It sounds like you can relate based on your own childhood. It has severely affected my life. I am nearly 40 and am just starting to deal with it. I have PTSD as a result from the abuse.

    The good news? You believe and accept that there is something wrong? You actually see and recognize that you meet the criteria? If you do truly have BPD, then you are already way ahead of the game!! I swear it. I am in a support group of adult children of BPD parents, and the real problem and damage is that our parents were all the high functioning type that didn't think there was anything wrong with them, wouldn't get help/treatment, pretended to be perfect for the rest of the world, terrorizing us privately. They were not capable of getting better - BUT YOU CAN!! Kinda like addiction, admitting that you have a problem is half the battle.

    You love your son - right? Then don't let your fear of abandonment/losing your boy prevent you from doing the right thing. ASK FOR HELP!! There is no law that says because you have BPD they will take your son away. If you do have BPD, then there are now several effective treatments. There is a better life for you and for your son. There is a great resource in the NEA-BPD. They are there to support you every step of the way.

    I hope you get the help you deserve, not only for your son's sake, but for yours as well. Best of luck

  29. Dasha, I just read your post more completely. Yes, you are 5 times more likely to have BPD if you have a BPD parent. However, you need to see a mental health professional and get some therapy. Adult children of BPD parents are greatly affected and often have some of the BPD traits without necessarily having the disorder. Some call these "fleas." We learn from our parents and we adopt many of their behaviors. The fact that you believe you could have it and would be willing to accept the diagnosis and seek treatment - speaks volumes!! Many (like your mom) wouldn't acknowledge that they have a problem and won't seek help. Those that do, can get better. When I first learned that my mother had BPD the first thing I did was ask if I had it too? This made him laugh cuz the fact that I would ask that and appeared willing to explore that possibility was a sign that I didn't. Also, I don't really meet any of the criteria for it. I do have PTSD though, so obviously I am messed up. Again, best of luck

  30. Hello all,
    After dozens of visits to counselors/psychiatrists, I have learned that my wife is a likely BPD sufferer (high-performing). Should note it was me, not her, attending clinics...!

    We have a 2 1/2 year old little girl who is extremely hyperactive, emotional, and hopelessly attached to her mother (who threatens to leave at the slightest misbehaviour). I pray for her daily and attempt to nurture, but it is difficult with wife always present.

    Her mother yells (screams) at least 5 times a day at our child, for reasons including toilet training (oopsies), stomping feet, being silly and crying (usually prompted by prior yelling). Several times I have to instigate an argument to deflect the venom from our girl.

    At the same time > when perfection is being attained by our little girl, they are the happiest mother/daughter combination in the known universe. Complete black & white.

    To those on this thread who have been diagnosed or suspect you have BPD...Thank You for being so introspective. I hope you are not being separated from your children if you have made such a big step.

    To those like myself who are no longer 'living' life but simply 'coping' from day to day trying to protect the sanity of our babies, be brave and be strong.
    As difficult as it is.

  31. I am 40 years old and still dealing with my BPD father and his rages. I know that he can't help it, it's like a bomb going off at times, but you just don't know when it's coming and it catches you off guard. It leaves you with shell shock afterwards. As a child it did damage my self-esteem but now I don't have to live with him anymore, so I can distance myself when I need to. I understand now that it's not me or that I'm a bad person. I can see he does it with many people, mainly women or men he recons he can easily bully. If he could he would (and sometimes he does still try) to use me as his emotional punch bag and then off load every problem he has on me then scream at me for daring to not agree. My husband suddenly passed away 2 months ago, but it's still all about him and it has stopped his mind games. I swear he was jelouse of the attention my husband was getting through his death. I know this sounds like I'm being mean. I've had enough of it, but he's my dad so I just try. If he wasn't my father I'd have walked far away a long time ago to be honest.

  32. I am a grown woman{middle child} of a HBD mother. She took her life 19 years ago, she moved to my state after her 3rd marriage fell apart. I was her care giver,not by choose believe but because she had groomed me from childhood to be in terror of her outbursts and I would do anything to make her calm down and she loved it.So at the age of 41 my 72 yr. old mother finally crossed the line with me,could no longer control her fits~threats of death. Had her commited for help,Drs. let her out 3 weeks later~she loved that,just what she wanted. She was beautiful,smart,evil,and cruel. She stock piled her meds.Took her life,had all of the pictures of us children turned face down around her body.To this day I still can remember the sounds of the ceiling fans she had turned on high all thru. her apartment,the window curtains blowing out,the phone unpluged and her body. There are 5 of us children, we all have are demons mother. She was a nurse most of her life,so she self medicated herself. People outside of the family just "loved" her.Her rages were directed at us. I have gotten help with my depression and see a Dr. about my issues,but as I get older I only hurt more still long for the "Love" I didn't get from my mother.Oh she told me she loved me but she was unable to feel true love for her children. I didn't like my mother she was so cruel to people and could be so evil in her ways. Hard to accept someone that beautiful could be so twisted in her mind.
    I really need to close now. I know she had some good traits but right now this is what's hurting my heart. Perace and love.

  33. I believe my mother had BPD as well as some narcissism of her own. Until I was almost a teenager, I seemed very important to her. I noticed a change at about 11 and I even used to say, "you don't love me anymore" quite a bit at this time. I have just recalled this period. Within months, she made big changes in her life at which eventually led her to return to graduate school then marry a man who appeared to be able to rescue her from me, underemployment, loneliness and poverty. He was a narcissist, a malignant narcissist who particularly disliked me. The opportunity to bully me may well have been part of his surprising (to her) desire to marry her. The marriage lasted ten years, until I was married and divorced myself. During the years of the marriage, I was scapegoated for all their adjustment difficulties as he attempted to gain total control of my mother's mental life. They married when I was about to enter 8th grade and I lived with them for only three school years after that. My freshman year in college (I'd been out of their lives and household for 15 months by that time), my mother almost died from peritonitis and Mr. Narcissist never even told me she was in the ICU for at least two months. My mother was periodically suicidal during the marriage and afterwards became a lesbian for 30 years immediately afterwards. She finally, at age 78, found a man who is currently presiding over her final decline with alzheimer's and COPD with all kinds of emotional support and money. As I reflect on this past (I am retired and going through a summing up period in my own life), I wonder if I had switched to less-than perfect, less that even interesting, before the marriage and that she married Mr. Narcissist (who up until he asked to marry her she had not even been much aware of) BECAUSE he disliked me, so that she could abandon me "in place" so to speak. With the marriage, I became a ghost, packed off to whatever relative's household would accept me for the balance of my minority (two school years and all summers until I went to college). I was fortunate to qualify for all kinds of aid and not one cent was contributed to any expense of my education or housing during all four years. Even money that my grandparents had told them to keep rather than pay for my support during my last year in school when I lived with grandparents was retained by my stepfather! I just wonder what others think of this story. My interpretation of the facts, as they occurred, is pretty much solid as based my own memories and on letters and diaries my mother kept during the relevant periods which I have been able to read, violating the hell out of her privacy and getting myself all depressed too. I had not been aware of my mother's suicidal ideation during this time. One thing that was particularly painful to read, however, was that during one time when they were breaking up and he was remorsefully begging her to return (I read the letters!), there was not one mention of my name in all that time. Why did he know better than to try to advance his case with her by promising to treat me more like a person? (and he really did not --she used to go out to a telephone booth to call me rather than use the house phone and whether married or unmarried, I was never invited to one family occasion or even for coffee, yet we lived in the same town -- so weird, esp. now that I reflect on that as a mother of my own adult children). For all this, I would have preferred her to remain with this sociopathic because she became destitute during her lesbian years in another country and may yet with the dementia and COPD. I am her only child. Any thoughts? For all this sad tale, my mother was not a stupid woman, yet se repeatedly mismanaged he life choices.

  34. I'm a 25 year old female who through therapy for my own problems has discovered that my mother has BPD. I am now going through the process of sorting through my childhood, everything i thought was normal and trying to now create my own healthy interpretation of normal.

    I moved far away from home and started dating a mature and emotionally smart man who gave me his perspective on what i seen as normal and suggested I go to therapy. I'm now seeing an amazing trauma therapist who is helping me heal and sort through my life. I've come to realise that I have picked up many of my mums BPD traits which terrified me and left me thinking i also had BPD. I have however been assured by a psychiatrist and a trauma therapist that i do not.

    Some of the issues i am now trying to address are;

    A deep fear of not being loved. My mothers made me feel like her love was not unconditional saying things like "I don't feel the same" when i told her i loved her following an argument as a teenager or saying "i'm not telling you I love you" as a punishment when i missed a Skype date.

    A deep fear of loving a man which results in me ending relationships as soon as I feel a deep sense of love. My father died in a car accident when i was 7 and I watched my mothers reaction to this resulting in an intense fear of loss.

    I am going through the process of trying to see myself as a good person after growing up thinking i was a bad person. I was sexually assaulted as a teenager and my mothers reaction was a complete inability to put my emotions before hers. She told me i needed to come up with my own punishment for my part in the situation. I was 14 years old and my mother viewed me as an adult.

    I'm terrified of being a mother and not knowing if my reactions and emotions are healthy or what i was taught. I'm sifting through childhood memories trying to sort memories into healthy and unhealthy baskets. my unhealthy basket include memories of my mum making me feel responsible for her happiness and because she was always depressed i spent my childhood and teenage years feeling hopeless. I developed an eating disorder as a teenager to cope with the lack of control in my life, nobody but me could control what went in my mouth. My mothers response to this was to never speak to me about it instead sit at the table and scream at me to eat my food.

    I learnt coping strategies which included emotional numbing which i am now trying to repair and be able to cope with negative emotions like sadness in a healthy way. This has proven difficult and I have struggled with alcohol as a means of escape.

    I also have the struggle of revisiting horrible memories full of confusion, guilt and fear. One that particularly upsets me is a memory of my mum bringing me a pink leotard home when i was around 4. After going to the toilet and not being able to button the crotch back up, i asked her for help to which her reaction was rage, yelling at me that my vagina was disgusting and each time she had to look she would slap my bare legs. I was exposed to feelings children shouldn't have to feel.

    I am researching BPD to try to understand my mother to allow for me to create a relationship with her that is as healthy as possible and that doesn't damage me. I will never ask for an apology for the horrible experiences she put me through because i truly believe she did her absolute best and she does love me. I feel sadness for her lifetime of pain that resulted in her developing BPD but I can no longer be the means of her happiness, it is an impossible task.

  35. I am terrified I am ruining my kids. I feel like I can't change. I want to, I cry every night with sadness and guilt for my kids. I see all the crap I do and am disgusted with myself. I hate myself. I feel I should have never had kids because they might be emotionally damaged. I am so selfish. I did not realize my issues before I had them. I really feel bad for them. They got a raw deal for a mom. Even writing this I am unsure of my motives for feeling bad..I can't figure out what is normal or messed up. What if I feel this guilt and it is because I am selfish. Ugh. I don't know anything and second guess everything I do. How can you trust yourself when you are mental?

  36. My 3 year old son's mother has diagnosed BPD traits. She also has a daughter from a previous relationship who is now 10 for whom I have been a step father since she was just over 2 years old. I also have a daughter from a previous marriage who has witnessed first hand the toxicity, yet thankfully only one weekend out of two. However over the past 8 years I have seen the damage caused by the constant badgering, mood swings, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse and the toxic environment we have endured despite my best efforts at shielding the children and taking the brunt including occasional physical abuse.
    It is now clear that her daughter is demonstrating very similar traits even if only on shared custody basis with her daughters father. It's clear who the BPD individuals are in the comments thread with their excessive explanations excusing themselves and not owning their disorder or taking any responsibility or even playing the victim blaming others for their portrayal of abuse. This is so typical and I for one am done with the manipulation and refuse to subject my son to this toxic and harmful environment and will do my best to break the cycle. I understand what the BPD faces every day because I lived through it patiently and took the time to learn about it. However it does not excuse the abuse and waive of destruction and destroyed lives you leave in your paths as you are fully aware of your actions and to be codependent on children knowing the lifelong damage you are causing is selfish, irresponsible, abusive and immoral which in essence is how BPT individuals act.

  37. Managing the schedules of families living under the same roof can be a challenge given the current work demands and social activities of parents, coupled with the schooling and activities of their children. Things get more difficult for divorced or separated parents who may not get along and who may find it difficult to communicate about even simple matters. parenting teenagers website