Personality Disorders- Children Growing Up with Borderline Parents

February 16, 2017

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?”

To any person outside of the family, mom appears to be a social butterfly, a loving parent, and secure with herself. Dad appears quiet and reserved. However behind closed doors, mom is the atypical narcissist ordering everyone in the family and she has placed dad in the submissive role. Only their children really face the idolization then devaluation, and the perfectionism to criticism. Intimate relationships between narcissistic parents and children do not exist because any connection is superficial and lacks empathy. Parents only care about how their children will make them be reflected in others’ perceptions.

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.personality disorders- children borderline parents

What should we expect? Individuals with BPD can be extremely hard to identify because they tend to be highly educated and successful. However the biggest outlier is their constant struggles with interpersonal relationships. As adults, they can think logically but their emotional stability is deregulated quickly. When someone gets in their way, then they become highly defensive and destructive in order to stabilize sense of self.

How to do they cope? Abandonment and perceived rejection is the main dilemma therefore parents place their child dependent upon them. Habitual splitting occurs in which the parent views things as either all good or all bad. The middle “gray” area where most of reality exists is not possible in their eyes. When the parent has multiple children, some children are idealized and other children are rejected. The parent also distorts reality to make sense of inside emotions to protect themselves from feeling responsible. BPD individuals lie often for coping with reality and inappropriate rage to intimidate children.

How has BPD parenting affected me? It has created you to most likely alienate yourself from other family members and friends. Children start at a young age are forced to stand side by side with the BPD parent no matter what, even if they are standing against the other unaffected parent. Children develop feelings of unsafe and distrust as a result of emotional or physical abuse that tends to occur. Children often make attempts to avoid being home. Children become the parent expected to protect their BPD parent. All of this leads to children who develop an angry and anxious affect that sticks with them throughout adulthood.

How should we take action? Setting boundaries and limiting time in order to separate yourself and the BPD parent. Utilize resources readily available to you, such has psychotherapy, both family and individual counseling services. Even during early childhood, psychotherapy is an excellent resource for validating their feelings. Remember that healing from childhood wounds tends to be a lifelong process. By your community resources and leaning on other family members, adult children can heal their inner child.

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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For more information on receiving help for managing a Personality Disorder, specifically Borderline Personality Disorder, or other related topics, check out the Resources Page.