Bringing up children is not easy. Especially when they are young, children are completely dependent on their parents. Sleep deprivation, fatigue, lack of nutrition, changing of focus of their lives and other factors prove to be challenging for almost all parents. Add to that a disorder such as BPD, and the situation is even tougher. They need all the help they can get. Check out these tips for parenting with borderline personality disorder:
10 Tips for parenting with borderline personality disorder
1. Go for a diagnosis
BPD is seen mostly in women than men and mothers with BPD have recurring as well as frequent change of mood, face identity crisis and have problems with their self-image. It is difficult for them to cope with the various stressful situations of motherhood. They react with self-harming or impulsive behavior, and lose their temper easily. These symptoms could be true for men too. If you have been experiencing any kind of irrational behavior, and finding it hard to cope with the new infant or older kids, then perhaps you should visit a mental health professional and get a diagnosis.
Knowing that your behavior has a health condition at the root will help to manage it, and improve your relationship with your child. You will be able to provide a stable emotional relationship to your children. A mother with BPD needs medical help and care which will be provided to them if they are diagnosed.
2. Educate yourself
Once you have been diagnosed with BPD, you would be provided with all the information regarding the condition. This would definitely come as a relief and your own behavior would become more controllable. Usually, the information also refers to the risks associated with BPD behaviors such instability, impulsiveness, having suicidal thoughts, and once your severity is detected, you can be treated accordingly and receive the support you need as a mother with BPD.
3. Start caring for yourself
You have to take care of yourself first, before you fulfil the needs of your children. While you would be taught how to establish a healthy relationship with your baby/children, learning how to focus on their needs, you would also be taught how to care for yourself. You have to take time out to do the things that you like, which relax you and maybe enlist the help of a family member or friend to help you care for your child. If you are a father with borderline disorder, then you too need help and attend therapy and care for yourself.
4. Mindfulness exercises
Mindfulness exercises, short in duration and regular will prove to be of great help to you. You may join group therapy or you can do them in your home. This will center you, and help you to be mindful in your interaction with your children. As a father with borderline disorder, or a mother suffering from BPD, then mindfulness exercises will help you gain better control with your dysfunctional behaviors.
Mindfulness is one of the meditation techniques in which you focus deeply on whatever you are feeling and sensing at that particular moment, without trying to interpret it or judging it. Mindfulness involves several breathing methods and/or guided imagery and more. Your body will relax and you will feel more focused during the day.
5. De-stress by reading books
As a borderline parent, you have to keep on top of your moods and feelings. As part of this disorder, you are prone to intense mood changes, emotional outbursts etc. Whenever you start to feel unsettled and feel a bad mood coming on, you should try to read a book, of your choice. It could be the news, or a magazine or the paper or just go online and read about taking care of infants.
Most parents with BPD find it difficult to relate to their newborn children, so reading about it will help you gather the basics. And you’d know you’re not alone, even parents without any disorder find raising a child difficult.
Reading also distracts one, and you can have some ‘me’ time, even if it just for 20 minutes. The best idea
is to do this when your infant is sleeping, and you can enjoy a few moments of peace.
6. Do some mindful writing
Writing is a great way to let go of stress. While writing, you don’t have to judge others or yourself. You can have multiple perspectives, but still be open. Be funny or be sad, and treat your journal as your friend you can tell everything to. Write about what you did the whole day with your child/children.
Journal writing is the best way to live in the here and now, while letting go of all your frustrations. Write something every day. Some days it could be just a few lines, some days it could be long pages. Write about your learning or therapy or just what you saw in the park. One useful thing would be to write a list about what you plan to do the next day.
Free writing is a technique that allows you to introspect. You simply start writing without knowing what you are going to write, and then come across some startling revelations about yourself.
7. Read to your children
A borderline parent may not find it easy to build a relationship with their children. Having a bedtime reading routine will bring you closer to your children. When they are a little older you can even make them understand your mental health issue with the help of books. You will both enjoy the time spent together, and the bonus is that they will fall asleep in the process.
8. Listen to your children
Children need to be listened to. If parents neglect or ignore their children, then it creates a distance between them, and separates them. To truly listen to your child when he or she comes to you, stop everything else, and give them your time. Do not judge or scold, just listen and respond in a thoughtful manner without interrupting the child. Listen for the feelings of the child as well as words.
9. Learn to deal with the conflicts
There would be some parent-child conflict which is inevitable. Parents with BPD need to learn from professionals how to control themselves during a conflict so that it does not turn verbally or physically abusive. You have to be the one to step back, so that you can gain control over yourself. Notice your behavior and stop yourself from overreacting or reacting in a manner that would be harmful for the child, in any way.
You have to learn how to understand your children’s needs and emotions. Older children can express themselves, but if your child is an infant, he or she can only express in the only they can – by crying. You have to keep your cool, while dealing with a screaming infant.
With toddlers, you have to learn the importance of body language. There is a lot that is conveyed by body language, such as speaking to children at their level, on your knees, to soothe them.
10. Read about BPD
Knowing more about BPD will enable you to function better. Books such as ‘I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me’, ‘Stop Walking on Eggshells’, and ‘The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide’ will help to understand the effects on the disorder on you, as well as your children.
BPD is a disorder for which you might need to seek therapy. If you notice any symptoms, get yourself checked out and get the necessary help to cope with the stress and for the benefit of your children.