How can we as parents cope with our Borderline children or adult-children? Somehow, BPD has robbed these children of reality on all levels. I don’t think our BPD kids realize how far out there they really are. It’s as if they truly believe normal people live the way they do. Our parental examples do not seem to make any impact or bear relevance to their lifestyle.
Once again, it is like all the things we thought we taught have simply vanished in their world. I am sure most, if not all of us parents, pay the rent or mortgage, have jobs, deduct the check for food from the bank account, etc. Our children have seen us at the kitchen table laboring over which bill we must pay first and how and what we will cover next week. Just like Joan getting her license taken after 3 speeding tickets. Objective reality is non-existent. Jobs, money, laundry, paying the rent, personal hygiene, lice, Columbia CD or CD of the month Club, bill collectors, long distance bills, and ad infinitum somehow get lost in the struggle just to be I guess.
I firmly believe none of our kids are capable of surviving in a “nice way” on their own. They have already established a pattern of neglect for themselves. It should not be difficult to understand, intellectually anyway, their disregard and neglect for our grandchildren. It is so sad to see our grandchildren abused and not cared for. Yet, BPD must so distort our kid’s personal reality, they cannot see much past 30 seconds in the future, if that far in advance.
What is ordinary common sense to us, is not for the BPD children. We have touched upon this issue of late in several different ways. I do not pay any outstanding bills for Joan. Bill collector’s do not call me because my number is unlisted. My small community knows about Joan and it knows about us. Marg and I have learned not to give two damns about what others think or say about Joan. Mostly, our acquaitances tell us how wonderful Anne seems to be doing and “God Bless what you are doing.” I am trying to say here that we all must consider what is right to do, not be concerned with what anybody else thinks about us or what we do.
As long as your BPD child is not a minor, you are in no way legally obligated (nor morally, I might add) to pay their bills.
In response to two mothers on an email list who wrote that they thought it was wishful thinking or false hope that kept them going back for more with their BPD adult children and that the only way they knew how to cope was to distance emotionally so that the pain, when inflicted, would somehow hurt less, Jackson wrote:
I cannot say what keeps you coming back for more abuse, I can tell you what makes me do what I do.
We left no stone unturned in an effort to help Joan in the earlier years. I mean we did everything concerned and loving parents would do to try and make Joan whole. You name it, we did it. Joan was sapping all of our energy every day. She was making the entire family dysfunctional.
Here is how I learned to cope fairly well with Joan. I reasoned things this way.
1) I am the horse who makes the money to feed and care for this family. If I cannot function in the provider role, the whole family goes into a tail spin. I must maintain my own sanity so I can work and make a living.
2) I used the analogy of an Oak tree to clarify my thinking. If an Oak tree has one bough that is sick and that sickness will eventually kill the entire tree, you must then cut the diseased tree bough to save the rest of the tree. I decided that Marg, Alice, and I needed to remain whole and healthy and I would have to sacrifice Joan.
3) I envisioned the worst that could happen to Joan living on her own. The worst I suppose was committing suicide or somehow getting herself killed. Of course prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, etc. all floated through my mind as possible consequences if I turned my back completely on Joan. I emotionally accepted the fact that if Joan killed herself or was murdered, I would grieve, but still get on with my life.
This rationale worked for me. I could have continued and could continue just fine without Joan in the picture. As hard as it was to “write off” my first born, I knew if I were to survive, I had to make that horrible emotional break.
Many parents report that their Borderline children never see themselves or their problems as the problem. It is always something or someone else and they keep changing and searching seemingly to no avail.
It is just this observation that makes dealing with our children so hard. Rather than sit back and evaluate themselves, they resort to blaming their environment for the problems in their life. The bad situations are a result of others, not them. So, they keep on searching, finding, and again abandoning what they have found for other tempting, greener pastures. The process is self-repeating and self- defeating except they do not know it or understand this process about themselves. Now this is an acceptable way to learn and grown at earlier ages. It is not a successful strategy for adults. Most adults realize sooner or later the grass is really no greener anywhere else. Our BPD kids do not seem to learn this lesson at any age and keep falling flat, seeking the answers with another partner, another child, another job, another boyfriend, another husband, another and another and another.
Until the BPD person wants and realizes there is something terribly wrong, they continue to lay the blame off on others and nothing changes.
In response to a question from a woman on an email list who asked how much of our lives do we have to give up for these kids, Jackson replied:
Spit your anger out. Don’t conceal it. Let your child know his/her behavior directly affects you. Our BPD children must come to know they are not islands. They must constantly be made aware how their behavior directly impacts on all with whom they are connected. Let him/her know you bleed just like he/she does. And, get angry because his/her conduct provokes your personal fury on oh so many levels. Try to express this anger after your real rage passes. If you bite him/her back during an angry episode, you will just get angrier and angrier at his/her refusal to see your side of things.
Sometimes, when the situation becomes calmer, the Bpd child can see your point a tiny bit better. During BPD’s rages, they are focused and consumed with themselves more than usual (if you can make this distinction). You are simply an object to vent their strange resentments and anger through. I try now, with all my might, not to bite Joan back when she rages out of control. Protect yourself first, easier said then done because of our parenting instincts but try none-the-less. Know others like us do understand how angry and resentful our borderline children make us.
Jackson’s take on the Disrespect Borderlines Show Parents
Here’s my take on BPD disrepect — We, as parents of BPD children, are disrepected continually within our scope of interaction. But, this disrepect often comes from the fact that these selfish daughters have not made it out of pre-teen emotional status yet. These daughters are still locked in the fragile pre-teen years on an emotional level trying to reconcile the oncoming march to adulthood. I have finally come to recognize we are dealing with emotionally illiterate children. We view these daughters as incompetent adults in just about every life area. They really are women with no idea how to function emotionally as adults. We interpret this as disrespect. I am finally beginning to truly believe, in large measure, these daughters just missed some brain connection to reality. Of course, I also believe, our daughters most certainly manipulate to achieve their own ends. They are fully aware of the manipulation–they are not aware that the manipulation gains them nothing in the end — only more heartache.
They really do not understand their infantile emotional urges. We suffer the disrespect for sure. I pose the idea that most of the disrespect centers on the infantile emotional nature of an ego-centric pre-teen searching for a stable emotional identity not yet found. That was a mouthful!! It could be bullshit too –just a thought on this anyway.
What About Our Borderline Children’s Children – Our Granchildren?
The fly in the ointment’s name is Anne. If my granddaughter was not in the picture, Joan would not be living with me today. Marg simply said she could not live with herself knowing we did not try and save Anne. With great trepidation, I acceded to my wife’s need to try and do right for our granddaughter.
For those of you with grand children to care for, we realize the gigantic commitment you are making for we have committed to the same goal. Understand, however, we all have choices and we have chosen this path. We could and can walk away at any time. You do have a choice as do we. There are mental health issues to deal with no matter which way you turn — and these issues directly involve us as well as the BPD child and grandchild.
For those of you who have no grandchildren, are having one coming soon, or are afraid you will have one: I will make this very clear and as short as possible.
1) If you cannot make the commitment to go all the way with the grandchild, do not get to know the grandchild. Do not get involved in pre-natal care issues, go for the birth, visit etc.. Once you know that little innocent baby, you are finished. Better to not get involved in grandparenthood. If Joan has another child, count me out per this paragraph. I will not ever do this again.
2) If you cannot let the BPD child in your life go, you must accept the fact that their crisis is your crisis. You have chosen to die a thousand deaths and refused to accept and understand their is nothing you can do to change someone else’s behavior. I am not saying it is easy to leave the child on her own — certainly not. I am saying, in my opinion, you are throwing your own life away in an entirely fruitless project which will bring you much pain and heartache.