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Article 8: How a Mother with Borderline Personality Disorder Affects Her Children

Mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder are characterized by a history of broken relationships and marked instability in multiple domains of their lives. It is anticipated that these characteristic behaviors infiltrate the mother-child relationship as much as it interferes with other relationships.

Children of mothers with BPD show a significantly higher prevalence of ‘disorganized’ attachment than children of mothers without BPD. Disorganized children face stress management problems, frequently engage in externalizing behaviors, and may even face dissociative behaviors later in life. Evidence suggest that, even in middle childhood, children of mothers with BPD may display problems with interpersonal relatedness and affective regulation. Follow-up studies show that disorganized children have more difficulty engaging in ‘democratic’ play with peers at ages six and seven. These children often make executive decisions and are overall more controlling in interactions with both peers and parents. Additionally, disorganized children maintain an inability to appropriately resolve frightening situations in middle childhood years.

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