In this blog, we will answer the question, “what are the borderline personality mother types?” and look at each type in-depth and how it affects the children. We shall also look at the outcomes of being raised by a mother with BPD.
What are the borderline mother types?
The borderline personality mother types are distinct personality traits portrayed by borderline mothers. They include;
- The hermit
- The witch
- The waif
- The queen
These borderline personality mother types can be further subdivided into two categories:
- High-functioning BPD mothers, i.e. the witch and the queen
- Low-functioning BPD mothers, i.e. the hermit and the waif
Before we look at borderline personality mother types and how they affect their children, let us broadly look at the characteristics of borderline mothers.
Characteristics of borderline mothers
- Expects to be taken care of at all times
- Expects her children to respond to her needs
- Confuses her child(ren)
- Does not remember/ is unapologetic of inappropriate behaviour
- Does not allow her children to be independent
- Frightens and upsets her children
- Is punitive or disciplines inconsistently
- Envies or ignores her children’s accomplishments
- Uses abandonment/ threats of abandonment to punish the children
- Feels jealous when her child(ren)are loved by someone else
- Mistrusts her children
The 4 types of borderline personality mothers and how they affect their children
The book “Understanding the borderline mother” by Dr. Christine Ann Lawson categorises borderline personality mothers into four groups. These are:
Low-functioning BPD mothers
They are also known as the helpless and are characterised by low self-confidence and feelings of unworthiness. In addition, they feel helpless, hopeless, and despair. They feel vulnerable, defective, anxious, moody, and irrationally fearful.
Waifs may have crying spells and cannot be nurturing to others. They treat their children negligently. Their intense rage may stem from real or imagined abandonment.
They suffer from depression and anxiety and reject any attempts by family members to help them. Families with waifs feel like they can help them by giving, learning or doing more. This, however, leads to frustrations as waifs reject any help as a way of avoiding and controlling abandonment.
The effects waifs have on their children include:
- The children may be entangled in the relationship with their mother hence making it difficult to separate from her.
- They may manifest their mother’s way of viewing the world with despair, hence making them despair as well.
- They may feel like failures for not being able to make their mother happy
- They may develop codependency issues in adulthood
- They may feel angry and alone
Also known as the fearful or avoidant, the hermit is characterised by reclusiveness, fear and suspicion. They believe the world is up to no good and nobody should be trusted. They see potential disasters everywhere and are afraid of not being in control.
The hermit is poor at accepting criticism and perceives criticism as being everybody else’s view of them. They have a deep sense of inner shame, which is expressed through continual criticism of others. They constantly feel betrayed by others.
On the outside, the hermit can be perceived to be independent, confident, hardworking and determined. However, on the inside, she is timid, insecure, distrustful, paranoid and has episodes of rage. A hermit gains self-confidence by working or engaging in hobbies.
The effects hermits have on their children include:
- Children may develop fear and mistrust toward other people
- They may have fear of new situations and people, hence having deep-seated fear of failure
- May develop with poor coping mechanisms of handling stressful life situations
High-functioning BPD mothers
Commonly known as the controlling, the queen is characterised by a constant need for attention. Their welfare comes before their children and considers a show of defiance, having one’s own needs and disobedience as disrespect, (out of the fog), entitlement, deprivation, emptiness, anger, frustration, or loneliness from the deprivation they felt as children.
They constantly use their children as accessories and do not allow their children to have their own opinions or needs. The children do not grow up to be their own individuals, but rather portray themselves as how their mother wants them to, i.e. dictate their dressing, flirt with the daughter’s boyfriend or intrude in their personal spaces.
Queens are impatient and have a low tolerance for frustration. They also push others’ boundaries without regret or recognition (out of the fog). They let go of friends with no apologies, use blackmail to get what they want, and are not able to reassure themselves when distressed.
The effects queens have on their children include:
- They are likely to have BPD in adulthood
- They may suffer self-esteem issues
- Increased conflicts between them and their mother as they grow older. They may become rebellious and have anger issues, but still crave approval and love.
Also referred to as the sadistic, the witch is characterised by cruelty towards her children. Her self-hatred is caused by growing up in a toxic environment, and this self-hatred is usually unconscious. She is cruel towards people less powerful than her, especially younger people.
They feel no remorse for cruel acts, showing more interest in their own well-being than concern over the way they have hurt others. The Witch’s triggers include jealousy, criticism, betrayal, abandonment, feeling left out, and being ignored.
They do not allow other people to help them, hence making treatment very difficult. Their need for control and power is an unhealthy coping mechanism for preventing and controlling abandonment.
The effects witches have on their children include:
- The children may develop depression and shame
- They may have a lot of insecurities when they grow up
- Some may suffer from PTSD
- They may become targets of bullying
- They assume they are at fault when verbally, emotionally, or psychologically abused
- They are likely to suffer from BPD themselves
- They are always on the lookout for danger
- They have difficulties forming and maintaining healthy relationships
What are the outcomes of being raised by a mother with BPD?
When a person is infected, the family is affected. BPD not only affects the person with it, but also those around them. Children born to a mother with BPD are seriously affected as it affects the parenting and stability of the children as they develop.
The effects begin in the early stages of development and can continue to adulthood when one has his/her own children. We will look at how being raised by BPD mothers affect childhood, teenage hood and adult hood.
Mothers with BPD can be too preoccupied with themselves that they may ignore the physical and emotional needs of the child. Children in early childhood need secure attachment where they develop trust with other people. Those with BPD mothers, however, grow up with insecure attachments that lead to them being needy, unsafe and guarded when relating with others, have a negative outlook towards life and others and some feel the need to fend for themselves.
Adolescent and teenage hood
They learn unhealthy coping mechanisms from their mothers, like being impulsive, hostile and defensive, having self-criticism and low self-esteem, and copy destructive behaviours like drug abuse or self-harm. Due to the controlling nature and not allowing children to explore, they lack self-identity and this makes them dependent while some become rebellious.
Children raised by BPD mothers grow up mistrusting their mother, have low self-esteem, poor relationship skills, codependency, psychological and emotional instability, shame and poor impulse control.
They copy behaviours picked from the mother like having negative conflict resolution methods, trouble with intimacy, and having no clear understanding of intimate relationships.
How do you respond to a borderline personality mother?
Dealing with a mother with BPD is difficult. The following tips will help you deal with a mother with BPD:
- Keep reminding yourself that you are not responsible for their well-being
- Educate yourself about BPD and its triggers
- Avoid engaging her in arguments and confrontations
- Think of your responses and take deep breaths before responding
- Set healthy boundaries with your mother
- Improve your emotional well-being
- Get support from family, friends and also professional help
Healing from a childhood with a BPD mother
Tips you can use to heal from a childhood with a BPD mother include:
- Practice self-care regularly. Spend your energy doing activities that are in your control than those you have no control over, like changing your mother’s behaviours.
- Journal your feelings
- Be mindful of your triggers and work on them
- Lean on healthy peer and family support
- Seek professional help
How to cope with borderline personality disorder
Ways of coping with BPD include:
- Learn the grounding techniques that can help you focus on the present and divert your attention from harmful thoughts. Grounding techniques include counting from 0 to 10, 10 to 0, clenching and unclenching your fists, curling and uncurling your toes, or remembering the names of everyone in the room.
- Avoid alcohol and substances abuse as they can destabilize your emotional state
- Listen to calming music when feeling low
- Eat healthy balanced diets
- Practice gratitude. This helps to inspire positivity in life.
- Have sufficient sleep
- Keep in touch with your feelings and emotional states by journaling.
- Keep a positive company that will encourage you.
- Share your feelings and fears with your friends
- Visit your therapist regularly.
- Identify your anger triggers so that you can stop early.
- Engage in physical activities that can divert your mind away from harmful thoughts.
- Take a warm shower when experiencing a borderline episode
- Express yourself through art.
Treatment for BPD
There is no medication for BPD but medication can be given for the symptoms that manifest, i.e. antipsychotics, antidepressants and anxiolytics
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy will help you respond to emotional situations with positive coping mechanisms and with reason and proper judgment. This will reduce seeing things in white and black.
This is necessary if you are experiencing extreme symptoms like suicidal thoughts and attempts, or hallucinations and delusions that are affecting your daily functioning and relationship with others.
In this article, we have looked at the four types of borderline personality mothers in depth. We have also discussed how children are affected by each BPD mother type, and how to respond to and heal from a BPD mother. Finally, we have looked at coping mechanisms and treatment for BPD.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments sections.
Frequently asked questions: Borderline personality mother types
What does borderline personality disorder look like in a mother?
Mothers with BPD may oscillate between over-involved, intrusive behaviours and withdrawn, avoidant behaviours.
Can people with BPD be good moms?
People with borderline personality disorder can be very effective and nurturing parents if they learn how to cope with and manage the intense symptoms of BPD.
How do you respond to a borderline parent?
You can respond to a borderline parent in the following ways;
- Be patient.
- Be realistic.
- Try to separate facts from feelings.
Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault. (28th November 2021). Borderline Personality Disorder. Verywellmind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd-425487
NHS. (July 17, 2019). Causes- borderline personality disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/causes/
Salters-Pedneault, K. Coping Skills for Borderline Personality Disorder. Verywellmind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/coping-skills-borderline-personality-disorder-425412