Individuals who have never experienced mental illness may argue that someone diagnosed with should not be allowed to be a parent, and possibly, their children should be taken away. Though some are unfit because of their mental illness induced behaviour and other factors, there are parents who are diagnosed and were/are successful.
When dealing with BPD specifically, we experience extreme emotions, behaviours and sensations that can become violent and abusive, and should not be exposed to a child. Wanting a child is a common human desire for most, but it is evidently possible that we could hurt our child by just having this disorder and not knowing how to control it. No loving parent wants to turn on their child.
What if your condition IS bringing harm their way?
That begs the question… Should Borderlines be parents?
Well, it would depend in what stage you fit, and how far along in recovery you are.
Just Out of Hospital/Recently Diagnosed. You are not fit to be a parent (at this time).
Parenting takes self-control and understanding, and if you have just been released from hospital for a suicide attempt or self harm incident, it would not be fair to expose a child to that. You are not in control, and that’s why someone had to take it from you, or you’ve handed it away.
The early stages of childhood can grasp onto trauma easily, and it is very likely that you will have an episode. The child will observe that and feel wounded; possibly blame themselves. You could physically harm them, and they wouldn’t know their rights or that that is not acceptable. Parenting early on into Borderline would only cause unnecessary trauma, and could enforce a mental illness upon them.
It will take a long time before you will learn self-control, emotional management and daily coping, and that’s okay. It is not necessary to be a parent immediately. Take your time; this is your journey.
Going to Therapy and Seeking Treatment. Still a long way to go to being ready.
Going to therapy is a positive and it should be praised. Going doesn’t mean being active, though. It’s great that you are attending, but if you aren’t engaged, it’s not going to benefit anybody. It also doesn’t mean that you’re making the changes outside of your therapist’s office. Going is just that; going.
Seeking treatment is not being IN treatment. It means that you are looking, are on the waiting list or trying to take treatment into your own hands. You cannot be sure that you will attend mandatory sessions or be committed to the medication your doctor suggests until the time comes. In 6 months time, you may be living somewhere entirely different and not have transportation, or the time to attend, and thus, are back on the waiting list.
Taking on a child in this stage will only overwhelm you, and you will distance yourself from recovery. It is almost guaranteed that you will spiral out of control again. And no one wants that.
Active in Treatment/Taking Medication. You’re getting there.
Being active in treatment whilst taking your medication is amazing. It’s one of the first steps to taking action in recovery but is nowhere near the final. It is important to continue trying to improve yourself every single day, and apply coping skills at home.
Medications may take several months to properly sit into someone’s system, thus is not fully effective. Early stages of medication actually creates more instability than not, and if not consistent and supervised, could bring you back to old patterns.
Applying Coping Mechanisms At Home. Still a little bit further.
Being involved in treatment, medication and your own recovery will take you far. This stage shows that you are active in your recovery and are willing to give up anything to remain on track. You will be forcing yourself to go outside, do art instead of self harm, controlling your emotions, etc. This kind of behaviour demonstrates that you’re getting to a good place, and are coping with what comes your way.
Though, you should not have a child if you’ve done this for one week. You have to remain consistent, even when it gets rough. No self harm. No episodes. Keep it under control, because you know you can do it, and your future child believes in you.
Coping Well/Recovered. Go ahead.
You are ready, recovery wise. Keep up the consistent coping skills, therapy and medication, and don’t give up.
Yes, some Borderlines are bad parents, some are mediocre and some are fantastic. Though everyone makes bad decisions, it doesn’t make them inherently bad.
Our mental illness does not define our parenthood, but it’s important that we have it under control before conceiving to avoid causing necessary trauma to the child. That decision to recover could be influenced by your desire to have a child, and that’s all the more reason to get there.
Don’t give up.
It is important to note that recovery is an individual process for everyone. Some people can do it in one year, and others can take ten. Don’t rush to conceive. Take your time, learn about your Borderline and learn about parenting in the process. You can be an extraordinary parent, if you are ready.