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Poll
Question: Which of these resilience factors does your child have? (see descriptions in first post)
Temperment - 27 (13.3%)
Intelligence - 45 (22.2%)
Sociability - 32 (15.8%)
Creativity - 33 (16.3%)
Attitude - 25 (12.3%)
Support - 39 (19.2%)
Other (please comment) - 2 (1%)
Total Voters: 55

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Author Topic: Which of these resilience factors does your child have?  (Read 1273 times)
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« on: January 21, 2012, 10:27:31 AM »

When a parent has a mental illness, it impacts the entire family, especially children. Children are more likely to thrive when they have specific resilience factors, such as those listed below.

Take the poll, noting which resilience factors your child has. The poll may not allow you to answer for multiple children, so choose one if that is the case. Feel free to discuss all the children affected in your comments.



1. How does learning about these resilience factors affect how you think about parenting?

2. Which of these resilience factors do you think you can impact? How?


Resilience Factors for Children when a Parent Is Mentally Ill




  • Temperament: Children with a more tranquil temperament will appear to cope with their situation more constructively.



  • Intelligence: Children who have the ability to understand the problem facing them will have better coping strategies to deal with the turmoil.



  • Sociability: Children who are able to initiate contact with peers and other supports (e.g., other adults) have greater resources to deal with a crisis.


  • Creativity: Children who can organize their own games and hobbies can cope better with parental isolation during times of crisis, or separation.


  • Attitude: Children with the ability to view the family problems as something to overcome or solve do better than those who view the problem as a paralyzing event.


  • Support: Children with at least one other adult to respond effectively to their needs fare better, especially if it is the other parent.



Adapted from A Lasting Impression: A Teacher's Guide to Helping Children of Parents with a Mental Illness, Canadian Mental Health Association.
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2012, 12:40:59 PM »

Its interesting that my daughter and I were discussing this topic, just last night. She is 26 and was describing what she perceives as her issues: co-dependency, grief over losing her brother in 2004, insecurities within herself... .

Still, she commented that she thinks, in spite of the chaos, drunkenness, and instability, that she is proud of herself, and her other living brother, that they are doing well. She recognizes that they could have developed drug or alcohol problems, or even incarceration. Yet, both of my kids are happy in the lives they have created.

She credits the connection and bond that they have as siblings. Our kids have always been very loving and supportive of one another. It was always important to me, as a parent, to promote this. I think I knew that, although I was not always a good parent, that they needed one another. This was something I didnt have growing up, and it was important to me to foster a close relationship between my children. For instance, one tradition we established when the kids were little was that at Christmas-time, they each were to get a gift for one another. They were given a budget, say $100 each, which they were to spend on their brother and sister. This became the most fun and remembered Christmas tradition, which they still have fun with as adults. It really made Christmas more about giving than getting for them. I remember how much thought they would put into what to get for each other. Of course, it was always such fun for them to keep their gift a secret surprise. And it was always so interesting to see how well they knew one another, how well they knew what the perfect gift would be. So, even though they didnt always have the support they needed from their parents, they always had each other, and still do.

Also, my kids had peer support too. Since I was moved around a lot in school, it was important to me to allow them to stay in the same school system until they graduated high school. In doing that, they have developed close, life long friendships with kids they grew up with. And since we lived in a neighborhood that was on the lower socioeconomic scale, many of their peers had similar issues as our kids. Many families in our neighborhood struggled with issues like poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, and general chaos and instability. Our kids were not the only ones facing these challenges. It helped them to know they were not alone in their struggles, or that they were not so different from others. The community my kids grew up in (which they fondly refer to as "the ghetto" was like a village... .several of us parents co-parented each others kids. All the neighborhood kids knew that if chaos was brewing at their home, they could go somewhere else and feel safe. Our kids did this also, going to a friend's house for the night, when sht was hitting the fan at home.

I think intelligence played a role for my kids, too. They seemed smart enough to know that they had some control over their destiny, that they could rise above. I went to college for 5 years during my kids' pre-teen and high school years. Although I have often felt guilty for all the time that took me away from my kids, they have said that that planted a seed for them, in seeing that they could work hard and study hard and that would help them create a foundation for the betterment of their lives.

I am very proud of my kids. They are independent, hard working individuals who take responsibility for their lives and families. They are loving, kind, thoughtful and respectful adults, who continue to maintain a close bond with each other. My son's wife calls my daughter "sista" and she feels very much a part of her brother's family. Even though they live 2000 miles apart, they are very much a family! In spite of the often fkd up childhood they had, they are doing well.
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2012, 02:13:52 PM »

I think emotional intelligence is an important factor too, and impacts on some of the others. DD5 seems to have more E.Q than DS9 did at that age, and yes some of it is temperament but i do think E.Q helps a lot.  If you can express and name your feelings, you can tell an adult and maybe get some support. From what i've observed, it also seems that problem solving attitudes are more prominent when children are more aware of their emotions.

I do make a concious effort to try and discuss feelings and reactions with our children, and getting them out for their hobbies - all of which are group activities so that they mix with peers who on the whole are different to their school peers.

I've tried to reflect on which i had as a child (uNPD/BPDm).  I wasnt able to go out and socialise outside of school, and the family was so enmeshed that it was just my mum or my g/parents that formed my world.  I was fortunate enough to hav temperament, intelligence and attitude - which demonstrates how important they are; yet there is little that we can do about them with our children apart from perhaps trying to coach and role model the correct attitude.

This is a really interesting and essential topic  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2012, 03:21:33 PM »

Thanks so much for posting this.  My daughters and I have struggled greatly with my wife's BPD in the 5 1/2 years I have been married to her.  I have often felt quite a bit of guilt about maintaining my relationship - I still do - it has lead to quite a bit of alienation and separation within my family, but I am working on setting up boundaries and detachment to mitigate those things. 

My daughters exhibit most of the resilience factors - my youngest (d14) who is still at home is the most artistic and I know her drawing and her piano are sustaining her.  I have definitely struggled to maintain her access to those things - since my wife is hot and cold on doing so.

Again thanks for this post - I will keep working hard on setting the boundaries but now with some affirmation that they will rise above it all. 

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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2012, 03:26:18 PM »

Great comments so far--thanks for taking the poll.

I'm curious about these specific questions as well:


1. How does learning about these resilience factors affect how you think about parenting?

For example, how can you incorporate your understanding of resilience specifically into your parenting?

2. Which of these resilience factors do you think you can impact? How?

For example, we may not be able to change innate intelligence, but we can affect how our child's understanding of the family situation evolves. What about attitude--Gettingthere mentioned modeling attitude, which is really important. Anything else we can do to help with attitude? What about the other factors?

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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2012, 04:10:48 PM »

Great comments so far--thanks for taking the poll.

I'm curious about these specific questions as well:


1. How does learning about these resilience factors affect how you think about parenting?

I am letting go of a bit of my guilt around something I was using to rationalize maintaining my relationship with my BPw which was "Whatever won't kill them will make them stronger."  I guess I was doing that because my childhood included a strongly overbearing and strict (but loving) father.  But based on what I have read here, I will change my base rationale to "The things I bring to them will make them stronger."   

2. Which of these resilience factors do you think you can impact? How?


Mostly I will continue my support and provide information to help them work on attitude. I will continue to support my d14's artistic efforts. To help with attitude, I have shared the link to bpdfamily.com with one of my older daughters, and when if feels right, I will share it with the others.  At times I have wavered between setting boundaries by fighting and allowing abuse by trying to keep the peace.  With what I am learning on bpdfamily.com, I have committed to using various validation and detachment tools as a new way of setting boundaries for them and will seek to end the abuse.

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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2012, 03:48:02 PM »

I have 3 stepkids, and each has different resilience factors. The oldest has great sociability and support, and also has the intelligence, all that have helped him be more resilient than his siblings.  The middle son has few of these factors, which may explain his dependence on drugs and alcohol (he's in treatment.) He does have intelligence and he appears to have a tranquil temperament, but that is often masking his true anxiety. The youngest has development delays and that affects a lot of these factors. He has good support from DH and me, but few friends, little creativity, some anxiety, etc.

How does learning about these resilience factors affect how you think about parenting?

Counseling has provided help to the two youngest to help them gain some coping skills. We use the examples provided by a T to help remind the kids of things they can do that help (e.g. exercise.) DH got the youngest back in school (his ex had pulled him out to kind-of homeschool him) and that has helped him gain more social skills.

Which of these resilience factors do you think you can impact? How?

I think we can impact Support, Attitude and Sociability. Support by providing support ourselves and helping find other support. Attitude by setting a good example of how we deal with stresses, and reminding them of the impact of their attitude. Sociability by helping find opportunities. The other factors -- Intelligence, Creativity and Temperament -- seem more ingrained and harder for someone else to impact. But I would be open to hearing whether others have ways to influence those.

Thanks for bringing up the topic!
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2012, 07:37:07 PM »

I think emotional intelligence is an important factor too, and impacts on some of the others. DD5 seems to have more E.Q than DS9 did at that age, and yes some of it is temperament but i do think E.Q helps a lot.  If you can express and name your feelings, you can tell an adult and maybe get some support. From what i've observed, it also seems that problem solving attitudes are more prominent when children are more aware of their emotions.

I second that.  I have a uBPD mother and while I have academic intelligence, my EQ is low (though therapy is helping with that).  I knew I was depressed, suicidal, etc. as a teen but never thought to connect it with what was going on at home.  I had never heard of emotional abuse at that point; no one had ever told me that it was wrong for my mom to tell me I was stupid, not let me make decisions, etc.  So I didn't even know what my problems really were, and even if I did I would not have thought of asking an adult for help.

With no real emotional support from any adult, and being naturally introverted to boot, I effectively shut myself down and tried to be as emotionally self-sufficient and have as few needs as possible.  That got me through my childhood but I am paying the price as an adult.  So yes, helping kids to be aware of their emotions and giving them ways to work through them and deal with them is a very good idea.

Maybe this would go under intelligence or temperament, but I think another resiliency factor where BPD is concerned is the ability to walk on eggshells, i.e. avoid getting the parent into a rage.  Some kids may be naturally better at this than others.  As a compliant INTJ, I learned to keep my mouth shut and avoid my BPD parent, but I could see where this would be harder for kids that are naturally more outgoing and/or strong-willed.

Today I was comparing family dynamics with a friend who also has a mom with BPD.  He seems to have emerged relatively unscathed, and he said humor really helped him.  He learned to distance himself from his mom's emotional neediness and just laugh at the craziness, whereas I was sucked into it and became my mom's emotional caretaker.
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 08:16:19 AM »

Excerpt
I am letting go of a bit of my guilt around something I was using to rationalize maintaining my relationship with my BPw which was "Whatever won't kill them will make them stronger."  I guess I was doing that because my childhood included a strongly overbearing and strict (but loving) father.  But based on what I have read here, I will change my base rationale to "The things I bring to them will make them stronger."

That's a really wonderful shift, maligned61. In a family with normal dynamics, it's not at all unusual for the father to play the role your father did, being the parent who fosters the discipline and perhaps also helps the child to stretch, take risks beyond the safety of the home environment, and learn hard lessons.

Those are important parenting functions, but you're right, the principle of "whatever won't kill them will make them stronger" is actually false. I love your replacement "The things I bring to them will make them stronger."

I do think we can impact many of the resilience factors. For example, we can encourage our children's creativity by giving them the time, space, permission, and encouragement to be creative. Many adult children of parents who were mentally ill during their childhood talk about the "thing" or "things" that helped them most. Often it is some kind of artistic expression, whether writing, building things from scraps or electronics, making art, learning to love music, and so on. That's just one example.

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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2012, 10:38:54 AM »

I do think we can impact many of the resilience factors. For example, we can encourage our children's creativity by giving them the time, space, permission, and encouragement to be creative. Many adult children of parents who were mentally ill during their childhood talk about the "thing" or "things" that helped them most. Often it is some kind of artistic expression, whether writing, building things from scraps or electronics, making art, learning to love music, and so on. That's just one example.

I think this is especially important where BPD/NPD are concerned as the parent with one/both of those will usually discourage the child's self-expression.  Encourage your child in whatever artistic/creative talents or interests they have and give them the time, materials, space, etc. to pursue them.  This applies to any outlet, any form of stress relief or self-expression, whether it's letting them play sports, put posters in their room, write in a journal (with a lockbox with a combination lock to keep it in), etc.
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2012, 10:59:41 AM »

 Great feedback... Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Kids learn EQ (emotional intelligence) through consistency, stable, nurturing environments with the adults and peers in their lives... ie: through playing with other kids, sports, arts,& school they learn how to regulate their emotions. ie: express feelings, learn how to work out conflicts... Parents can teach kids how to be optimistic, use humour, affection, rituals such as reading, sharing how the day went at dinner time, playing with kids on a regular basis ... So intelligence can totally be influenced...

Creative expression through reading, music, painting, dance, etc... can be very healing and help kids develop self-esteem...
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2012, 11:30:59 AM »

I have read a number of articles on positive factors indicating resilience in children with mentally ill moms.  One that appears in some lists is the ability to express oneself.  I think this is something that really helps my SDs.  They have a great T, and they also get to express strong feelings to DH and I.  They get to say, "I feel angry at you!"  This I think really is empowering. 
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2012, 11:46:06 AM »

 Hi Ennie:

Absolutely... great your kids are doing well...

Allowing kids/teens to express their feelings and validating feelings... so important
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2012, 12:33:08 PM »

They are doing well in some ways; not in others.  SD 7 seems to be healthy psychologically; her T says she is doing great.  At the same time, she exhibits age-appropriate signs of distress--lots of controlling behaviors around food (separating food, restricted diet, changing what she likes to eat often, very narrow range of foods she will eat), she sometimes wets the bed when stressed; and expresses anxiety about things her mom does (usually indirectly). 

SD11 seems happier, but has more of the signs of kids who have been exposed to high conflict environments, including black and white thinking, poor reality testing during conflict; she also has extreme emotional fits if she does not get what she wants. 

That said, SD 11 connects with all her parents, loves her dad, her mom, and me, and expresses feeling loved.  Some of her intense emotion seems to be just hormones, but it is hard to parent her on transition days when she has just left her mom.  Even when she is having a very hard time, and even when her dad and I get frustrated so prove that we are mean (while mom is nice), she can still love us and back down from the extreme place she goes to.  I also hear her being very self-aware about how she acts with friends, which makes me think that when she is not dealing with loyalty issues with her mom, she will have the self-awareness to address ways that she has learned to behave like her mom.  Still, this is challenging both in terms of my experience parenting in the moment, as well as my concern for SD11's ability to form and nurture supportive relationships. 

That is another of the protective factors: good relationships with peers. SD11 used to have a really hard time, when living full time with mom.  For the past 5 years, she lives half time with dad, and these social issues lessened.  Right now, after a year of custody litigation, I see her losing friends, having more and more people tell me that their kids do not want to play with her because she is too bossy and not nice.  This is painful, as I can see that when the incidents occur are at times where she is under so much stress--being coached by her mom to lie to the court about her favorite grandma so that she can help her mom get full custody, etc.  So then she plays with a friend and tells her that if she is her friend, if she loves her, she will lie for HER.  For SD11.  Clearly, she is processing some very hard stuff. 

I just really hope that she can be conscious enough of what is happening here to be able to access this when she is a young adult.  She is very verbally expressive, and fairly self-aware when not stressed.  When stressed, she can be completely able to avoid facts and sounds very much like her BPD mom.  I do not think that she is BPD or has signs of that--just thorough fleas, coupled with an emotional temperament at an emotional phase in life.  But not having a personality disorder does not mean you are exempt from harming relationships due to one-sided thinking and punishing others when you do not get what you want.  I just hope she has the wherewithal to work through some of this. 
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« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2012, 11:04:50 PM »

Toddler is an easygoing, smart, fairly sociable, creative, problem-solver, and, most of the time, both adults will respond effectively to toddler's needs.  Some of the time, toddler just has me - and our pets.

Temperment and intelligence are hard to change.  Support is easy - be there.  And, make sure toddler has local friends and other adults who interact with toddler.  Oh, and we have a dog and cat to model less crazy behavior. Some debate about moving closer to family.  For sociability, we've been forcing toddler to play closely with other children since 18 months. (probably before toddler was ready... .) On the bright side, toddler is now very outgoing. Creativity can be encouraged - dunno - we leave lots of random play materials around the house and BPDw is pretty good at story-telling - basically trying to turn the world into a game.

One thing I'm not sure of... .on one hand... .toddler is an active problem-solver.  OTOH, I'd rather avoid co-dependency.  So, I'm mostly teaching toddler to speak up and complain and how to leave the area if BPDw is becoming disregulated. I'm worried about toddler trying to take care of parents.  Mostly because toddler already does this.  And, unfortunately, toddler is a smart, manipulative little bugger, so... .to some extent... .toddler really can control us.

Still, the quiz was a bit encouraging.

--Argyle

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« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2012, 08:00:48 AM »

Excerpt
Still, the quiz was a bit encouraging.

I'm glad you found it so, argyle. There is a lot we can do.

Of those who took the poll so far, these are the percentages that selected each item:

Temperment - 62%

Intelligence   - 76%

Sociability       - 67%

Creativity       - 67%

Attitude       - 43%

Support       - 86%

Other        - 10%

Can we talk about Attitude? That seems to be an area where more of the respondent are uncertain.

By "attitude" in this context, we mean: Children with the ability to view the family problems as something to overcome or solve do better than those who view the problem as a paralyzing event.

Perhaps an example will help. One thing my parents (both disordered) did was assume I would go to college. There was no practical planning or real assistance, but they set that expectation. Starting around age 13, I began paying attention to everything that was shared in school about how to go to college. I watched other people, what their families did. I asked questions. I read up on things related to college. I visualized myself in college. I set a goal. When things like the required standardized tests came around, I worked around the roadblocks my parents set up to take the tests. When I wanted to improve my scores, I took resources out of the library and signed myself up for a course, which I paid for using money I made from my job.

Eventually, I applied to and was accepted at a number of good colleges, one of which I attended.

There's attitude, I think, from my own experience. A lot of that was from me (temperament, intelligence). My parents planted a seed (helped to generate attitude). My teachers were very helpful in this (support).

1. Do you have examples of attitude, either positive or negative?

2. How can YOU help the child "view the family problems as something to overcome or solve do better than those who view the problem as a paralyzing event"?

For example, ennie said:

Excerpt
One that appears in some lists is the ability to express oneself.  I think this is something that really helps my SDs.  They have a great T, and they also get to express strong feelings to DH and I.  They get to say, "I feel angry at you!"  This I think really is empowering.

To me, that can fall under attitude. Learning coping and communication skills gives a child confidence he or she can handle a situation better, and the child is more likely to feel like it can be mastered and not become paralyzed.
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2012, 09:28:11 AM »

My attitude on attitude may be shaped by having a young child... .but... .well... .

Babies like power.  Knowing that you have power in a situation reduces fear.  Reducing fear presumably leads to less trauma. The baby who is allowed to choose new pants reacts better to being changed than the one who gets pants stuck on.

So, giving choices helps.  Basically, make sure toddler's choices matter.  (Some of BPDw's childrearing advice is pretty useful... .she knows what she lacked.) (When possible... .not allowed to actually drive the car.) Next, when baby is unhappy, teach them to make choices to reduce unhappiness.  Eg., leaving the room or the house.  Or, sadly, hiding under something durable. 

I have mixed feelings about responding to baby while BPD is disregulated.  This could eventually lead to toddler trying to manage BPDw's moods... .which ain't healthy.  It has already led to toddler telling BPDw that she needed a timeout.  This is true, but toddler's don't discipline parents.  (And, something really bad could happen. Hasn't yet... .but... .) And, I've been teaching toddler that toddler doesn't need to regulate BPDw's moods or make her better.  I dunno tho, that may push in the direction of 'paralyzing'.  Ideally, it will push in the direction of healthy responses, but toddler is so young.  My guess is that toddler will pay enough attention to moderate toddler's tendency to manipulate/codependency while not actually curing it - which may be a relatively balanced perspective.  Meh.

-Argyle
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2012, 02:03:21 PM »

Before addressing attitude, I would like to mention intelligence.  I have noticed on this board various discussions surrounding cognitive deficits in children of borderline moms, in particular.  This is something touched upon in the article "How a Mother With Borderline Personality Disorder Affects Her Children"  (https://bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a108.htm). 

My SD11 has various learning disabilities.  Some of them seem to come and go based on how much time she has spent with her mom recently.  I am not sure how much of what we see here is psychological, how much may have psychological causes but has become part of her cognative system, how much is physiological.  When tested, she tests as having a high IQ, with various learning disabilities. 

What I notice is that she has a hard time believing she is capable. She responds to something being hard or taking work with the assumption that this feeling means she cannot do it.  She also has extremely short attention span sometimes, the opposite at others.  Sometimes she cannot remember a math problem by the time she gets to the andswer--"What is 5+4?" --she starts solving the problem, then forgets what she is doing. 

So while I think her innate intelligence, represented by her IQ, is high, there are some serious limitations to her functional intelligence.  The lists I have seen list intelligence and academic success as two different possible factors correlated with success for kids who have mentally ill moms (and the lists I have looked at are specific to mental illness in MOTHERS).  The resilience factor of intelligence has various implications--being able to understand mom's games well enough to play them, thus avoiding punishment, is one implication.  Another is the ability to figure out mom's games well enough to see that they are games, which might facilitate the ability to separate from mom during teen years more successfully.  Then there is the ability that intelligence gives a person to function well in the world independent of one's parents, so that understanding money and being able to get work or even do homework alone enables a kid not to be so dependent, thus allowing more psychological freedom. 

For my SD11, I see that she is very intelligent.  I also see that she is very dependent, has a hard time focusing on anything hard without the presence of another person.  At times, she barely understands basic math.  At other times, she is sailing ahead in her work.  I think that there are aspects of cognitive development that impact the ability of a person to succeed independently in our culture, and that there are things in a child's environment that impact their ability to develop effectively.  I think exposure to violence is something that can inhibit cognitive development.  Fear impacts cognitive function, and possibly development.  Also, there is basic "will power," which can be subverted by not making a child do things ever (BPD mom tends not to make the kids do things).  As parents, we can impact these things by limiting fear, and by supporting the child in developing good work habits. 

I also think self esteem is an issue here--not just does the child feel good about him or herself, but does the child perceive herself as having the capacity.  Our kids' BPD mom has poor executive function, so her solution to something being difficult is to quit.  She has passed this strategy on to SD11.  Part of how I help SD11 to move through the challenging part of initiating work is to let her know that I think she can do it, that she is able.  I also try to label the things she is not that great at, and let her know that she probably will have to compensate for these limitations, but that while her visual motor sequencing issue (sort of like dyslexia) may mean she has to take longer to read, and may mean she therefor does less well on some tests, her love of reading and writing means she can still be a novelist if she wants, and her very accurate memory may mean that she remembers what she learns longer than her peers.  That we all learn differently, and that what school is for is to help her to figure out how to learn the skills she needs, given who she is.  She may have to learn some tricks or check her work more to make up for the dyslexia, but it does not stop her from being great at reading and writing.  She has all the intelligence she needs to be good at those things as a grownup, once we get past standardized testing (which is just hard for her given her limitations). 

So I think we actually have more impact, as parents, on a child's "intelligence" than we think--because functional intelligence is the result of native intelligence, cognitive processes (which are affected by emotion), "will power" (ability to follow through), and ability to initiate (both of which are affected by self-esteem). 

As for attitude, I did not check attitude as a factor in my SDs, though I actually think it is huge. But it seems so variable. 

For SD11, she is so enmeshed and parentified that she is willing to sacrifice things that are very important to her to make her mom happy.  She is at the critical age where parental alienation is the most effective.  She is willing to ignore not only her own needs but her own senses to line her story up with moms, and mom really insists on her only loving mom, and only having capacities and interests that derive from mom's interests and capacities. 

SD11 has very strong inner drive.  This shows up in a way that is difficult for me as a parent when SD11 throws long fits when she does not get what she wants.  But unlike for her mom, this quality translates into being very committed over time to what she wants.  She has worked on a tree fort she designed and mostly built herself for 2 years, and she is still clear about wanting to finish it, the color of the pain inside on the sheet rock (she wants it to be a totally finished little house).  She is very dedicated to riding horses, and despite lack of funds, we have supported her in this endeavor, found a teacher willing to instruct her for free.  Now the teacher is suggesting a better instructor for a child her age, which will cost money, and SD11 is looking for mothers' helper jobs to help pay for lessons.  At the same time, the one thing that can really change her mind is her mom.  Mom puts down almost anything SD11 does at our house, even if it is initiated by SD11, but we empower it and mom drops the ball, so it becomes "our thing" rather than hers by default.  This is the case even when mom initiates, and we are just going along with it.  But when mom gives the signal, SD11 decides suddenly that she does not like whatever activity any more. 

I guess I am not really sure what attitude means.  But for SD11, I see the struggle is between her own naturally optimistic and can-do attitude, and her need to capitulate to mom's needs, her need to do badly if there is the threat that she will be better than mom.  Also, her outlook toward the future seems so dependent on her mom--if mom is happy, she things about her own future--about a cool summer camp, or a train trip she wants to take when she is 15, or about designing her room when she is a teen and gets her own room (we have promised that).  When mom is having a hard time, which usually shows up in part as mom badmouthing dad and me, SD11 does not think about the future.  She has a defeated attitude about her abilities to accomplish things, and about her ability to be who she wants to be.  Partly, she is still young and just identified more with mom than an older child would be, so her attitude is less her own. 

AS7 is very different.  SD7 is much more independent, and much more independent of mom.  She does not modify what she wants or who she is to please her mom much, and as a result, gets much more negative messaging from her mom.  She has more faith in her ability to accomplish things.  She sees herself as "smart and pretty" even when she things that someone things other girls are more pretty.  She is willing to take on big things, even without mom's support.  She told the teacher she wanted a big part in the school play, and got one.  Mom has not practiced lines at all with her, but we practice a lot with her and she initiates work on this stuff. 

Her attitude is positive in terms of her willingness to initiate and follow through on tasks.  But she is less likely to believe that others will love her and respond well to her.  She is very cooperative and altruistic, but less likely to make happen what SHE wants.  In a conflict, she almost always gives in.  She is very young, so it is hard to see her "attitude" expressed in terms of how she sees the future, whether she sees a positive future for herself.  But I would say this aspect of her is compromised by mom's negative extremes.  Mom put coal in her stocking, from Santa... .for example.  I can see SD7 dealing with this pressure by trying to do everything right, by trying to be perfect, by fearing her own mistakes as they have such negative consequences.  For SD11, she gets that all she has to do is be an extension of mom's will, and she gets approval.  Moms approval is the only thing that matters.  For SD7, she does not somehow get that.  She sees things the way she sees them.  She does not get that she can change that to make mom happy.  Somehow, SD11 intuitively understands that mom is inconsistent, so that if mom says she wants "A" one minute, and "Z" the next, SD11 turns on a dime.  SD7 meets that inconsistency with confusion, and then thinks if she just does "A" perfectly, mom will not be mad. 

So I fear that SD7's attitude is becoming more defeated through that process.  That she tends to think she is not good enough if she is not perfect, and that she gets down about that. 

So I guess the summary here is that the kids at their young ages seem to have naturally fairly optimistic and positive attitudes, but that this seems to be something that is really influenced by parenting.  And, the person who is willing to withhold approval as a way of getting her needs met tends to be more influential.  DH and I let the kids know we love them no matter what, even when their attitudes are not that fun for us.  Mom does not have that margin.  So I feel like at this age, the kids attitude goes to negative when they are with mom, and it takes several days to get back to generally positive.  So I cannot say that attitude is one of the factors that is resilient given mom's mental illness, as it seems likely to be affected and changed by mom's disordered way of approaching the world. 

As to what we can do to change that, it seems most effective when I can stay positive and just tell the kids I believe in them.  When SD11 is whining and complaining that she can't do her homework because it is too hard, I say, "I know you can do it, even if it is hard, because you are a hard worker and a smart person, and I have seen you learn hard things before."  When she whines that no one likes her, I tell her that having conflict is part of friendship, and ask her to think of things she loves about the friends she feels do not like her.  Or I ask her to think of things that she has power to change, that she feels uncomfortable about with that friend, things she has done that she regrets that she can change.  We also have two principles that come up often--"It is never to late to try again," and you can always ask for a "do-over."  These give outs for a person stuck in a negative attitude about something.  I notice that for SD11, she goes from blame and whining about a problem, to feeling like she wrecked it by her actions... .at which point, these principles help her to get unstuck. 

So I do feel like attitude is something that is taught and that can be changed, but also something that is so much the result of modeling that a kid who spends time with a BPD parent, especially a same-gender parent, especially a birht mom, is really likely to pick up mom's attitude.  I also think we all easily emulate attitude--I am influenced to be more defeatist by listening to the kids be that way, and by dealing with BPD mom so intensely, particularly during custody litigation.  I have always been optimistic and open attitudinally, and I find that I am much more negative and pessimistic over the past 5 years of involvement with my DH and two SDs.  I see this as being directly related to the constant negative messages of BPDmom. It is very seductive--when someone tells you what is wrong with you, it is easy to be defended and think of what is wrong with them.  In the past, I tended to shy away from people who dealt with conflict by polarizing.  My close friends tended to be people who would communicate their discomfort in non black/white way.  So I was reinforced to see things as not bad, just what they were.  Now, we have the kids half of the time and the first three days, I hear all about how everything mom does not like is bad.  We deal with regular, extreme accusations from mom.  The kids lie and have secrets from us, something I have never had with people I am close with.   

Attitude seems to me to be one of the most malleable qualities of those listed in this poll.
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2012, 08:53:54 AM »

My SO's S12 is very intelligent and sociable. He loves to be around other kids, though sometimes they find him annoying and bossy. Still, I see it as strength, because he is outgoing and comfortable talking to adults as well. He seems to have decent EQ for a 12-year-old boy, too, able to identify how he feels and talk about it.

Lately he's really opened up to me. We've established a ritual of talking for a few minutes before he goes to bed. He does have 2 therapists (school and outside) that he talks to, though BPDmom has influence with both of them, so I don't know how honest he is with them. I know he's not totally open with me, either, but since I make a point to be neutral about his mom, he seems to feel that I'm at least someone that she has no influence with. He has recently told me that he "thinks of me as a mother", so I think we can add me to the "support" column. He doesn't talk to his father as much because he's heard so much negative stuff from Mom about him, but that's getting better too.

He's very protective of his mother, and IMO, in danger of heading down the rescuing and codependency path more so than the disordered path. He told me about feeling bad for a friend who was anxious at a school dance and got upset with SS12 for not staying with him through the whole dance. I told him that it was nice for him to care about his friend's feelings but not his job to make sure the friend was comfortable. It was OK for SS to want to spend time with other friends, too. He protects his mom in a similar way, and doesn't yet get that it's not a child's job to do that.

He has a lot of anxiety, worries a lot and has trouble sleeping due to his worry. This is a major risk area for him.

As far as attitude, he vacillates. Sometimes it's "so many bad things have happened to me and I feel like they will continue to happen" and other times it's "I'm going to go college and get a good job and be successful". He has 2 older half-sibs on mom's side and seems to be identifying with the one that does well rather than the one who is a Mom mini-me. That seems positive.

I think we can influence him a lot on the support and attitude areas, and we try hard to do that.  Sometimes I feel enormously frustrated that everything has to be so hard for him but I'm grateful that he's weathering it pretty well.  Just wish it could get to a more settled place.
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2012, 12:05:56 PM »

 Attitude is related to EQ and absolutely crucial... IQ (cognitive intelligence) is partly genetic and then the environment can have a large positive influence.

BPD parents view themselves as chronic victims, and lack problem solving skills, ability to complete a goal/project due to their impulsivity and lack of executive functioning skills in the frontal part of the brain. Black and white thinking, overeacting,  catrosphizing and depressed mood are also common.

Parents can teach kids optimistic thinking, how set goals/dreams, like Black and White's great example of going to college, how to solve problems, and communicate in a positive way. In other words teaching kids that life is not black and white, life goes on and they can be okay despite having a mentally ill parent...
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