How to Parent a Teenager with Borderline Personality Disorder

How to Parent a Teenager with Borderline Personality Disorder

Let’s talk teenagers. Now, let’s talk about teenagers with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Buckle up because this ride can be intense, filled with unexpected twists and turns. But fear not, fellow parents, there are ways to navigate this emotional rollercoaster and build a strong, supportive relationship with your teen.

First things first, what’s the deal with BPD? Imagine emotions on a hair-trigger. One minute, your teen is your best bud, showering you with compliments and affection. The next, a perceived slight sends them into a tailspin of anger, accusations, and maybe even a slammed door (or two). This emotional instability is a hallmark of BPD, and it can be incredibly confusing for both you and your teen.

Here’s the good news: BPD is treatable. With the right support system and therapy, your teen can learn to manage their emotions and build healthy relationships. But as a parent, you play a crucial role in that support system. So, let’s dive in on How to Parent Teenager with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Common Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

  • Fear of abandonment: People with BPD have an intense fear of being abandoned or left alone, even by friends or family. This fear can lead them to go to great lengths to avoid real or perceived abandonment, such as clinging to relationships or manipulating others.
  • Unstable relationships: People with BPD often have intense and unstable relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. These relationships can be characterized by idealization (seeing the other person as perfect) followed by devaluation (seeing the other person as worthless). This can lead to frequent arguments, breakups, and make-ups.
  • Unclear or shifting self-image: People with BPD may have a poor or unclear sense of who they are. Their self-image may shift rapidly, and they may base their identity on the opinions of others.
  • Impulsive and risky behaviors: People with BPD may engage in impulsive and risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, unsafe sex, reckless driving, or binge eating. These behaviors are often a way of coping with difficult emotions.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors: People with BPD are at an increased risk of suicide or self-harm. They may make threats of suicide or self-harm, or they may engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting, burning, or bruising themselves.
  • Extreme emotional swings: People with BPD may experience intense and rapidly changing moods. These mood swings can last from a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness: People with BPD may experience chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom. They may feel like their life has no meaning or purpose.
  • Inappropriate, intense anger: People with BPD may have difficulty controlling their anger. They may experience frequent outbursts of rage or become verbally or physically abusive.
  • Dissociation: Dissociation is a feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings. People with BPD may experience dissociation as a way of coping with difficult emotions.

It is important to note that not everyone with BPD will experience all of these symptoms. The severity of symptoms can also vary from person to person. If you think you or someone you know may have BPD, it is important to seek professional help. Read more about “Understanding Personality Disorders” on our blog page now!

Empathy is Your Superpower

Imagine your teen is lost in a dense forest of emotions. They’re scared, disoriented, and lashing out because that’s all they know how to do. Your job? Become their emotional compass. Here’s the key: validation.

Validation doesn’t mean agreeing with everything your teen says or does. It means acknowledging their feelings, even if you don’t understand them. Say things like, “I see you’re feeling really angry right now,” or “It sounds like you’re scared about being abandoned.” This shows your teen you hear them and creates a safe space for them to express themselves.

Taming the Tempest: Setting Boundaries with Love

Boundaries might sound harsh, but they’re essential for a healthy relationship – especially with BPD. Think of them as guardrails on the emotional rollercoaster.

Here’s the tricky part: Setting boundaries with love and respect. Don’t expect immediate compliance. There will be protests, tears, and maybe even slamming doors (again). Stay calm, explain the consequences of their behavior, and stick to your guns. This consistency helps your teen feel secure and teaches them healthy boundaries are a normal part of life.

Communication: Decoding the Teenager’s Code

Communication with a teenager with BPD can be like deciphering a secret code. Here are some tips to crack it:

  • Active listening: Put down your phone, make eye contact, and truly listen to their words and emotions.
  • “I” statements: Instead of accusatory pronouncements (“You’re being dramatic!”), explain how their behavior makes you feel (“I feel hurt when you yell at me.”)
  • Pick your battles: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on addressing important issues calmly and rationally.

Remember, You’re Not Alone: Taking Care of Yourself

Parenting a teenager with BPD can be emotionally draining. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Here are some self-care essentials:

  • Support network: Find a therapist specializing in family dynamics and BPD. Talk to friends and family, or join a support group to share experiences and vent frustrations.
  • Self-care rituals: Indulge in activities that bring you joy. Take a hot bath, read a book, spend time in nature – whatever helps you recharge.
  • Healthy boundaries: It’s okay to say “no” to your teen sometimes. Set boundaries with your time and energy to avoid burnout.

Embrace the Journey

Parenting a teenager with BPD isn’t easy, but it’s a journey filled with love, growth, and resilience. Remember, your teen is not their diagnosis. They’re still that creative, funny, and loving person you raised. By providing unwavering support, setting boundaries, and taking care of yourself, you can help your teen navigate the emotional storm and build a strong, healthy relationship that will last a lifetime.Feeling like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster? Do intense relationships leave you drained? Elysian Psychological Services can help. Our expert therapists understand personality difficulties and offer personalized strategies for navigating challenges and building healthy connections. Take control of your emotional well-being. Contact Elysian Psychological Services today.

Footer with Centered Seal Image