My daughter is 29 & has been verbally & physically violent towards me since adolescence. She seems to see me as competition, rather than as a parent. She lost 2 college scholarships, has abused drugs, & has a sporadic work history. She sees me as all bad despite my being always there for her. She has never been abused or neglected but I did divorce her father. She also has an arrest for marijuana possession. She tries to use my grandson as a weapon by keeping him from me. I had her in therapy as a teenager but no one ever used Borderline as a diagnosis back then. Could this be the case? She despises me yet idolizes others for no particular reason that I can see. Can you help me? Perhaps I should include that she has been violent with a boyfriend in the past, perhaps others. Also, I remember her having a violent episode with a female friend about 10 years ago. She has had at least 4 pregnancies (never married) with various men & one live birth, my 6 year old grandson. Also, other therapists in the past have never given me any definite diagnosis, they just used behavioral therapy such as tough love. One doctor did call her a master manipulator.
Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
Do you have an answer for me?
I am very sorry to know about this very serious and concerning situation.It seems truly overwhelming to be in your shoes as a parent witnessing how your daughter has been this destructive against herself, you and other people. All the behaviors you have described are very serious and show a person, who is effectively very manipulative, dysfunctional, and with multiple serious issues, from mood problems, probably personality disorders like borderline, and obviously substance abuse- issues. This would be what we known as a person with dual-diagnoses, meaning one that suffers of disorders related to the use-abuse f substances and mental health disorders, including personality problems.
I'm very worried. She seems to truly despise me, yet idolizes her father. Yet I'm the parent who was there, raised her & provided a home. She sees some people in a black or white way, no gray, they are either great or despicable. She also uses my grandson as a weapon against me by trying to keep him away. What can I do to try to get her in treatment? I know she also has been physically violent towards a past boyfriend & a female friend.
Her history of sexual promiscuity, multiple pregnancies, lack of productive life and violence does show her need for consistent and intensive professional psychological support. My first concern here is the fact that she is an adult but has no stable job and has a child. If she is this dysfunctional and has been self-neglecting and abusing herself and other people for this long, how could her take good care of a minor child?She was nor abused nor neglected, but it seems she has been spoiled or her abuse and violent ways tolerated for long, what could have easily enable her personality, mental health and addictive disorders
Are you still there, Doc?
I am afraid that your love, generosity and caring without necessary limits and boundaries, could have been enable her issues and abuse. Does she live with you, financially and materially depends on you?
People who present any of these serious issues, even more if they happen together like in her case, do not have chances for rehabilitation as long as they have people around them who allow or enable her dysfunctional – abusive ways. Thus the best way to support a person in her situation is to set healthy and clear boundaries and limits, without tolerating any form of abuse, including verbal, emotional, financial or physical abuse.
You are right. She was tough even as a child & in order to stop the screaming tantrums I did bend over too far in the other direction to quiet her down. My ex-husband was also ineffective as a disciplinarian. No, she does not live with me as I couldn't stand her lifestyle any longer in my home, so I put her out. I believe she's staying with a boyfriend (another loser). My grandson lives with his paternal grandparents now. His father is not her current boyfriend. I couldn't keep my grandson with me, first because my daughter would never allow it because it would make me happy, but also because I have cancer & need to be in treatment often.
Obviously, this radical change in your approach would trigger a very negative reaction, but you need to come to terms with the fact that you have two Main options here. One to continue allowing or tolerating further abuse, or to set an end to it by setting healthy limits and boundaries. The first option would keep things the same and with time they would get worse for sure, while the assertive option, would lead to a real crisis, but it would be a necessary and constructive one, where she would have to face reality and start taking responsibility for her life.
I am very sorry to know about your medical condition, and how your circumstances have evolved around your daughter. AT the same time I feel relieved to know you were able to set an end to her direct abuse and that your grandson is not living with her and her current boyfriend.
Thank you. I believe that keeping her out of my life is the right thing to do, she's been so disgusting towards me for years. It's funny, I really don't even care anymore because she's so unlovable. But I do feel guilt about my grandson. He really wanted to continue living with me, and now, whenever my daughter tells the other grandparents that I can't see him, they abide by her rules even though they tell me that they see issues with her too. I guess they also want to avoid trouble, I'm not sure. I feel that I really let my grandson down. Guilt has always been a big issue with me. Therapists have told me that my mother sounds like she had BPD & she was extremely abusive towards me & my siblings. Perhaps this was how my guilt came about. I also was treated for PTSD back in the '90's & the treatment was very successful.
As frustrating and sad as it may sound, the only one with the power to make her life change for better is herself, as long as she acknowledges reality, takes responsibility for her choices and actions and commits to work on herself and rehabilitation process with consistent professional psychological support. You can do much for her by not allowing any further abuse nor manipulation, eradicating any codependent enabling-allowing. That by itself would take away a lot of fuel to her distorted ways, but the path to her rehabilitation will continue to depend on her.
If my mother had BPD, can this be inherited by my daughter? None of my brothers & sisters suffer from it, nor do their children.
I strongly invite you to learn about codependency and work on improving your coping skills in order to take better care of yourself, and for this painful reality not to undermine your well-being even more. Counseling or psychotherapy could be ideal sources of support for you to work on these areas, since it is tough, and only you know how hard it’s been all these years for you. Please become unconditionally gentle, caring, understanding, compassionate and supportive with yourself, in this way you would not allow anybody to use, abuse nor manipulate you.
Absolutely, it’s believed that personality disorders have a genetic root, but it is obvious that “nurture”, the very life experiences she has had have triggered and developed these serious distortions in her.
I do support you and your approach, there is just nothing healthy for you nor for your daughter, exposing yourself to her abuse or manipulation. I believe it’s tough what you feel, no doubt about it, but please confront those feelings of guilt with awareness of reality, and reality is that there is nothing you can do about it but to set good boundaries and limits to support her and her child in indirect ways. Be hopeful that with time he will get older and allow your presence in his life. His paternal grandparents will continue to see her dysfunctions and will have to make changes in order to protect and support him. Just keep communication open with them as much as possible.
I truly hope you could continue to benefit from psychotherapy and get good help from your support system. Taking good care of your health and well-being would allow you to share and play a healthy role in your grandson’s life in the future. Your daughter has her own path, and she would have to learn sooner or later from the pain she creates in herself and others. Thank you for your trust and openness here.
Thank you so much. People all over have been telling me that guilt is unnecessary but hearing it from a pro does make it easier. I do know that spoiling was detrimental to my daughter but at the same time, I know plenty of spoiled kids who didn't go to these lengths, so my guilt with my daughter is pretty much absolved. I'm certainly not saying you're wrong, but there definitely is more to my daughter's case than just that, although spoiling is probably more than 50% of the problem.
Are there any good books that you can recommend that would help?
You’re very welcome. Genetics play a huge role in who we become, the same as life experiences, and each person is unique, as the way they react and respond to same or similar circumstances, no way to know for sure but by carefully learning each particular situation. Thank you again for your trust.
“Codependent No more”, is a good one on codependency, which is related to spoiling, abuse, manipulation, BPD issues and many of the dynamics involved in situations like this one. Also consider joining a codependency support group (coda.org), since getting feedback and support from people who have faced similar experiences is always very helpful and complements any individual work.
Thanks. I heard of that. Will p/u at Barnes & Noble this morning.