As they stand, parent-daughter relationships provide their own unique set of challenges. So it is no surprise that this relationship can prove even more difficult when you’re contending with a psychiatric disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
If your daughter has Borderline Personality Disorder, it is important to keep certain guidelines in mind. Your daughter’s emotional vulnerability and difficulty with regulating her emotions can create feelings of helplessness in you. Don’t despair. There are steps you can take to help maintain a healthy relationship with your daughter.
Educate Yourself about BPD
The more you know about Borderline Personality Disorder, the better equipped you will be to face the challenges associated with living with this disorder. There is a wealth of resources available to you, including websites, books, and treatment centers for BPD.
Learning more about BPD will ultimately allow you to better empathize as you learn to separate your daughter’s personality from symptoms associated with Borderline Personality Disorder.
With that said, you will learn that it’s important that you also keep the following in mind:
Don’t take your daughter’s behavior personally. Realize that your daughter’s disorder is no one’s fault and it is not about you. It isn’t possible to always have the “right” response to avoid your daughter lashing out at you. Your daughter’s emotional instability and your subsequent tumultuous relationship are hallmarks of Borderline Personality Disorder. Recognize that these challenges may further complicate an already complex dynamic.
Don’t hesitate to seek therapy for yourself and other family members. Family or individual therapy can not only help educate you about Borderline Personality Disorder, but it can provide you with skill sets for coping with your daughter.
A good therapist can teach you the importance of establishing healthy boundaries and how to best respond to your daughter’s erratic behavior and mood swings. Understand that recovery from BPD is possible, but it is a process.
You are most likely dealing with your own anxieties, stress, and pain, and it’s important that you don’t lose your sense of self amidst your desire to help your daughter. Find balance and don’t neglect to take care of yourself and your own needs. Support groups can help to provide you with a sense of community and comfort, as well as remind you that you are not alone.
Don’t attempt to treat your daughter’s BPD on your own. Your daughter will need to seek Borderline Personality Disorder treatment herself if she is to recover. However, she must also have the desire to change to truly experience long-lasting effects.
Because your daughter may also be engaging in self-destructive behaviors — such as substance abuse, self-harm, or an eating disorder — she will also need to see a professional to help overcome these tendencies. Many treatment centers for Borderline Personality Disorder treat these co-occurring disorders along with BPD for a more comprehensive recovery.
Find balance between supporting your daughter while establishing limits. It’s important to maintain a constant presence in your daughter’s life as she is receiving BPD treatment, especially since abandonment issues are common for people with BPD.
However, you shouldn’t compromise your own needs in the process. Your love for your daughter and desire to be supportive do not mean you have to subject yourself to her unpredictable behavior and abuse. Instead, assure your daughter that you love her and won’t leave her, but explain that you must distance yourself when she behaves in a certain manner toward you. You don’t want to invalidate your daughter, but try to balance this with the need for change.
There is no doubt that as the parent of a daughter with Borderline Personality Disorder, your life is fraught with troublesome circumstances that can often lead you to feel hopeless. However, with enough effective therapy, support, and adequate use of coping skills, you can not only empower yourself to live a balanced life, but you can also develop and sustain a meaningful and lasting relationship with your daughter.