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Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  646 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Surviving a Borderline Parent is the first step-by-step guide for adult children of parents with borderline personality disorder.

Between 6 and 10 million people in the US suffer from borderline personality disorder. This book teaches adult children how to overcome the devastating effects of growing up with a parent who suffers from BPD.

Although relatively common, borderlin
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by New Harbinger Publications (first published October 31st 2003)
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Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A validating, healing read that is worth its weight in therapy gold. If you have a parent who suffers from BPD -- or even suspect that one of your parents suffers from BPD -- I fervently recommend giving this a go.

Unlike many other books on the subject, Roth goes far beyond "This is what BPD looks like" to "This is how BPD manifests itself specifically in parents, and these are some of the long-term repercussions other adult-children of BPD parents have experienced." I don't mind saying I wept
May 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I grew up with a father who was never formally diagnosed with BPD but who demonstrated almost all of the symptoms (in addition to bipolar, narcissistic, and addictive behaviors). This book was immensely helpful for me, especially just for pure validation (a thing you grow up pretty short on if you have a BPD parent). Reading descriptions and explanations of the kind of chaotic and unreasonable behavior I grew up with confirms to me that I WASN'T actually crazy or imagining things, and that it's ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Revelatory, really. But I think the title may discourage people who could be helped b this book from considering it relevant to their own situations. Really, the "borderline" parent exhibits many of the traits that are common in certain cultures, so it may as well have been called, "Surviving an Asian Mother."

Did your parent have unrealistic standards of your academic performance, exhibit constant unspoken disappointment, teach you to feel guilt and shame, treat you like a little adult when you
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book and Understanding the borderline mother both brought me to tears because they hit so close to home. My mother has BPD and living with her made me question my own sanity, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors on a daily basis. This book explained how her invalidation of my experiences, inconsistent and erratic behavior, and angry and violent outbursts (that she blamed on me) left me feeling like I was the crazy one.

It touches on behavior that I never realized other children's parents didn'
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is wonderful. As an "adult child" of a mother with BPD as well as someone who has struggled with traits of BPD myself, this book helped me understand my mother and helped me understand my own struggles. First of all, the beginning of the book was a breath of fresh air: immediate validation that others have experienced the same thing that I have and others struggle with the same problems I do! I wasn't crazy to think that my mother had problems that impacted me (and my brother's) life s ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
My mother suffered from this, and it was a hard growing up. She passed away at 49 from cancer, and when she did I was still angery at her. but reading these books help me to understand how it wasnt her's no ones fault. There are things in life we can't control, and we just need to love & understand. I was able to forgive my mom many years after her death.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It was like reading the story of my life!!! WHAT VALIDATION! I'm really NOT crazy, inept, incompetent, controlling (well maybe some), and can learn to trust, have close friends, and enjoy life more. I recommend this book to anyone who grew up thinking something was wrong with them, to help gain insight into what may have been happening in their childhood.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days." — Flannery O'Connor

Don't read this book on the train. Or the bus. Or anywhere in public, actually. It's definitely a healing book, and healing doesn't happen overnight...or without tears or throwing books across a room.

Read this book.
Read it with a box of tissues
Read it with a pen and your journal.
Read it and discuss it with your therapist.

I'm lucky if I can get through a chapter a mo
Oct 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
I finally finished this -- it's not a long book, but I read it in fits and starts. And it is full of work -- activities to try, self-reflection to think about, goals to plan, journal writing to do. And I've done none of it. I really need to go back to the beginning, and start all over and do the steps. But that is oh, so much work...

Nevertheless, for a child of a borderline parent, I definitely recommend the book! (I've found other books about dealing with someone with bpd less helpful. A parent
Rachel Sparhawk
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I only read this because I grew up with a Borderline parent. It was SO helpful, and brought so much insight. I have so many issues that I didn't realize were so related to my childhood, and it's relieving to know that I am not simply a defected human. I strongly recommend this to anyone who grew up with a Borderline parent, or suspects they did, or anyone with a partner/friend in either of those situations.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
Designed as a workbook for children of BPD parents to do introspective self work, this is best used as a follow up to Understanding the Borderline Mother or Stop Walking on Eggshells. This book does less explaining about the BPD parent then it does guide the adult child through the healing via questions, activities, and journal work. Best used if one is in a therapeutic relationship and able to discuss some of the journal work in that setting.
Laura Talley
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I could just feel tension drain out of me as I read through this. Incredibly helpful. I feel like I understand so much more about my family and myself, and I have walked away many good tools for coping with some of the less than pleasant interactions. Highly recommended for anyone who grew up in a chaotic and/or high conflict family.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent resource for clinicians and families. A lot of validating material in this text
Maureen Weiner
I loved listening to this book with my husband, Henry. We're pretty sure his mother had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and we found this book to be quite enlightening.
Book  Minx
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Resonated with my past and feelings. Interesting exercises, though some feel a bit silly. Definitely a keeper as a reference.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was revelatory for me. I understand more about myself then I did in 8 years of therapy. I'm not really crazy after all; just came from craziness
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
Part 3 "The Future" was exceptionally well-written, pragmatic and helpful. 5 stars to Part 3.

This book (and a damn good therapist) has done three invaluable things for me:

1. Crying. Helped me observe and start addressing my inability to cry over grief (gratitude: no problem! Anything that could be construed as self-pity? Instant shutdown. I've already progressed to about 4s before shutdown. It's a good start, and we know this from science, but yeah, even that little bit of crying helps.)

2. Exhau
Jan 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
The authors of this book know nothing about BPD at all. I wish I could give it zero stars. The idea that BPD makes a person inherently abusive (it doesn't) is based in the fact that BPD is a stigmatizing diagnosis given to women, akin to hysteria. It has becoming increasing ill-defined with every expansion of the DSM and is essentially meaningless; virtually any woman who's self harmed will get this diagnosis, and that's especially true for survivors of abuse (cos women with BPD are either shrie ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An important read for anyone who grew up with a parent with borderline traits (even if they were never diagnosed with borderline personality disorder). It was recommended by a PhD psychologist blogger that I follow. The book helps you analyze your own patterns of thoughts and behaviors, and find healthier ways of thinking, being, and interacting. It is not an easy read (lots of memories and emotions) so I found I had to read it a little bit at a time and take time to process what I read. I also ...more
Karri Lewis
Sep 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: children of BPD parent
This book is not as thorough as the Understanding the Borderline Mother, but still gives some insite into what it is like growing up a child of a Borderline Parent. It does give validation to the experiences that a person has while growing-up in a seriously dysfunctional home. There are not very many books dedicated to the topic of children of a BPD parent so I would still recommend this book to people who are struggling with understanding the confusing, abusive, unpredictable behavior of a pare ...more
Elliotte Bagg
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very succinct book on dealing with being the child of a Borderline parent. Each paragraph is full of insight into how to deal with picking up the pieces after a tough childhood dealing with a parent with issues that got in the way of them being a parent, and plenty of encouragement to really make you examine yourself. If you have a parent who suffers from this disorder, this book is a must have, although as it will tell you, it is only part of the solution to finding yourself, and it no substi ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thank goodness for this book.

I appreciate the description of the disorder, the real life stories and examples that were put forward, and the tips and tools to help you begin to recover.

The real life stories were such a blessing to me, as I had been feeling that nobody else understood what I was going through. The tools have helped me understand how my relationship with my borderline parent affects me and how to change that to a positive effect.
Alicia Barnes
The stories in this book are eerily similar to some of the experiences I had with my own mother. This book helped me to learn why I don't trust and question everyone's motives, especially in interpersonal relationships. My mother used me as a tool to get what she needed at the same time depriving me of my needs. I felt guilty for a long time that it was necessary to rid myself of this toxic relationship, and now I know I am not the only individual who has had to go to such lengths.
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has given me something that I can put no value on: knowledge. This book has validated the feelings of the girl I was at 8...12...16...21..26....and even now at 30.8. This book answered redundant unspoken questions that I have struggled and carried with myself- like a over sized winter coat, heavy with years of outdoor weather. This book has changed my life.
Renata Hernández
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I learned about this book through another author called José "Dado" Canales, a Mexican psychologist & therapist who wrote a book called "Padres Tóxicos" (Toxic Parents). He referenced this book more than once, and I loved his' so much that I felt the urge to read "Surviving a Borderline Parent", since my father was diagnosed with BPD years after committing suicide.

This book is POWERFUL. It took me around 7 months to finish it. As an adult-child raised by a BPD parent, it has been one of the
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recently having a parent diagnosed with BPD, I found this book incredibly helpful in my healing journey after not knowing anything about the disorder when I first began reading. It was only available via audiobook via by library and I found the narrator so soothing and helpful I pretty much cried throughout the entire book. Then I purchased it and found all the exercises very helpful and has become my go-to when triggers get out of hand. Truly feel this books give you the education, validation, ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this specifically for communication tools and carried away more messages on self-esteem. Not that I have a wealth of positive feelings for myself, but I was really hoping for more tools that I could use to communicate and set boundaries when it was more about understanding origins of pain and how to heal yourself. As someone who is choosing for the sake of another parent to maintain a sort of relationship with the BPD in my life, I felt like this book kind of missed the mark for me person ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even if you aren't 100% sure what borderline personality disorder is or whether your parent had it - if you're even looking at this book, chances are that there will be valuable info in here for you. I found it immensely helpful. I would recommend finding a printed version rather than the audiobook version as there are a lot of useful exercises/questions for the reader to stop and think about, and this can be difficult if you are listening to an audiobook while doing something else, as I tend to ...more
Daniel Starks
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very helpful in understanding my childhood interaction with my mother and sister. It was a bit difficult for me due to the fact book brought up a lot of childhood trauma. For me had to work with therapist for the healing aspect yet very insightfully on differentiating the narcistic personality disorder and borderline personality. I dealt with both types of personalities during my life resulting in relational PTSD.
Stephanie Snyder
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
This is a great book to read if you suspect one of your parents had some sort of personality disorder that resulted from any sort of abuse (emotion, physical, verbal). It includes a lot of thought-provoking questions to help you towards a happy and healthy future.
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Surviving My Borderline Mother 2 45 May 07, 2009 01:33AM  
  • Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship
  • The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells
  • Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents
  • An Adult Child's Guide to What's Normal
  • Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers
  • Different Minds: Gifted Children with AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, and Other Learning Deficits
  • Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance
  • Lost in the Mirror: An Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder
  • The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation--the Hidden Epidemic
  • Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame
  • Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program for Self-Injurers
  • Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified: An Essential Guide for Understanding and Living with BPD
  • Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists
  • Sometimes I Act Crazy: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder
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  • Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self
  • Feeling Unreal: Depersonalization Disorder and the Loss of the Self

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“Owing to a poorly defined sense of self, people with BPD rely on others for their feelings of worth and emotional caretaking. So fearful are they of feeling alone that they may act in desperate ways that quite frequently bring about the very abandonment and rejection they're trying to avoid.” 27 likes
“Certainly, it's important to acknowledge and identify the effects of BPD on your life. It's equally important to realize that it neither dictates who you are nor fixes your destiny.” 16 likes
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