borderline personality disorder
paul mason
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Mission Statement
Q. Could you assist me in locating information about children who are primarily raised by a parent who suffers from borderline personality disorder? I am incredibly concerned about a little girl whose mother exhibits almost all of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, and has for more than 20 years, but who will not seek treatment. Is there any information I can obtain that will help me help this little girl deal with her incredibly traumatic home life?

A. Thank you for your question. I'm sorry to hear of the young girl's situation. There is not much information available on how bpd in a parent effects children. Research is lacking considerably in this area mainly due to the struggles that researchers are having just to understand the disorder per se let alone trying to understand how it effects others.

Nonetheless, I did devote one chapter in my book to this much needed subject. Refer to chapter 9: Protecting children from bpd behavior of Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder  for some guidance.

In the meantime, children exposed to the borderline personality disorder behavior, especially the more traumatic behaviors of suicide threats, excessive blaming, projection of negative self-image, etc....can really benefit from what I call "buffers" (healthy parent/adult figures in their life who provide corrective experiences). If possible, you and other healthy adults can be "buffers" to the child by inviting them over to play with your children, interacting positively and consistently with him/her, providing some of the love and nurturance that the bpd parent may be struggling to provide. Find out how you can become a positive, healthy adult in this child's life. The experiences that you provide him/her may go a long way in helping the child see that she can turn to other adults in her life for some of her needs. Children are remarkably resilient and gravitate to the adult figures who help them with their needs. It also helps the child understand (in a very non-verbal way) that his/her parent may be struggling with a mental illness and therefore may not always be able to meet his/her needs. Most of all, it helps the child understand that s/he may not be responsible for the problems of his/her parent nor those that the parent may have blamed on the child. As a result, a healthier and positive self-image is able to develop. Take good care.

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