Looking back and while growing up, I was often torn apart inside trying to make sense of how what my mother was saying about her parenting abilities (stellar!) and who she told me I was (a vain, lazy, spoiled, ungrateful child. ahem) just never matched up for me. Everything she said and did was lacking in logic and rationality and if I were ever to question it, she would turn it back on me. I was the one who was wrong for observing it in the first place. I was critical and mean for speaking up and trying to divide the family.
I knew that I came from a childhood of abuse and neglect. But it was only recently that a professional with 30+ years in this field suggested to me that she might have had Borderline Personality Disorder. Everything that I have read on it so far has been blowing me away.
“Unresolved trauma, which is associated with BPD, often obstructs a mother’s ability to parent effectively. Parents who are unable to reflect back on their childhood history and integrate their experiences have a limited capacity for emotional availability to their children (Crandell & Hobson, 1999). Specifically, a mother with BPD may lack the capacity to respond appropriately to her children by projecting past material into the mother-child interaction (Crandell et al., 1997). For example, defensive splitting may interfere with the parent-child relationship via the mother with BPD’s perception of the child as either “all good,” who needs to be saved, or “all bad,” who needs to be reprimanded (Newman & Stevenson, 2005, Glickhauf-Hughes & Mehlman, 1998). 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 causes 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.”
“The following are commonalities in parenting behaviors that typify mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder:
(1) they use insensitive forms of communication;
(2) are critical and intrusive;
(3) use frightening comments and behavioral displays (Hobson et al., 2009);
(4) demonstrate role confusion with offspring (Feldman et al., 1995);
(5) inappropriately encourage offspring to adopt the parental role (Feldman et al., 1995);
(6) put offspring in the role of “friend” or “confidant” (Feldman et al., 1995);
(7) report high levels of distress as parents; (Macfie, Fitzpatrick, Rivas, & Cox, 2008); and
(8) may turn abusive out of frustration and become despondent (Hobson et al., 2009; Stepp et al., 2012).”