6 Tips for Parenting with Borderline Personality Disorder
If you are a parent struggling with BPD, there is a chance you have read the research on how this disorder can affect your children. If you haven’t, let me sum it up: it’s not great. Add together the fact that many mental health professionals have their own preconceived notions about BPD and the conclusions of the researchers, and you might be feeling a little less than secure about your parenting skills, but don’t get down on yourself. I know from experience that having BPD and successfully raising a child is POSSIBLE. That is not to say that it is a walk in the park. That doesn’t mean that you won’t mess up sometimes, or that you won’t sometimes feel like a failure. It just means that it’s not a guarantee that you’re going to mess up your child just because you have BPD.
After reading what research I could find, I noticed some common problems that we borderlines deal with when parenting. If you are like me you have probably asked yourself the following questions; “how do I make sure I am doing the best for my child? How do I raise successful, productive children even when the research says I can’t”? Just know that it has already been done, and I want to share what helped me.
Know your disorder
I’m sure you have heard “the first step is to admit you have a problem”. Same applies here. Almost everyone who has BPD experiences it a little bit different. Therefore, it is so important that you are self-aware and have a plan in place to deal with your symptoms. Know your triggers and make sure you have a bag of tools ready to deal with them as they arise.
This really is one of the most important things you can do for not only your child, but for yourself as well. For me personally, BPD makes it hard for me to effectively communicate with the people I love the most. Family Therapy can help work through some of the major issues that family’s sometimes face, and give you the skills you need to handle everyday struggles.
Being borderline and sometimes feeling out of control tend to go hand in hand. This can cause problems in many areas of life, but especially when trying to parent. When you feel out of control you can lash out with hurtful words or even physical violence. This is where meditation or mindfulness can really come in handy. It teaches you to be more in control of yourself in stressful situations.
Recognize Black and White thinking
This is something that I struggle with every day. I have a hard time remembering that not every infraction by my kids is going to result in them becoming serial killers. It is important that you are able to see the difference between things that deserve punishment and things that do not. This is also help you to recognize what degree of punishment (if any) is required.
Be Careful of Words
Many of the studies I have looked at agree that one of the characteristics of borderlines that can cause the most issue when it comes to parenting children is that they tend to lash out at the people they love. This can cause multiple problems in our relationships with people, but can be extra devastating when it comes to how it effects our children. Children internalize what is said to them when a parent verbally lashes out at them. They then incorrerporate it into their self-image. If you say things like; “what is wrong with you?”, “don’t be stupid”, or “I hate it when you…,” the child can grow up feeling inferior and unloved. It is important that you think before you react to your child’s behaviors. Practice using positive phrases like; “you’re so special”, “you’re so intelligent”, or “I love it when you….”
Ask for help
This is important to remember in all aspects of your life, but especially when it comes to parenting, People need a break sometimes and asking for help with the kids will give you time to refresh your batteries. Getting a break will make you a better parent, because you will be more relaxed and have more patience when your kids test you.