Objective: The aim of this study was to examine individual characteristics, familial experience, and psychopathology of children of mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Method: Children of mothers with BPD were compared to children of mothers (1) with depressive disorders, (2) with cluster C personality disorders, and (3) without psychiatric conditions, including temperament dimensions, perceived parenting behavior, and psychopathology.
Results: Compared to other groups, children of mothers with BPD demonstrated higher scores on the temperament dimension of harm avoidance. Moreover, they tended to perceive their mothers as being overly protective. Regarding psychopathology, these children exhibited a higher prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems than comparison groups. Particularly significant was the finding that children of mothers with BPD described themselves as having very low self-esteem.
Conclusions: Children of mothers with BPD are exposed to a combination of risk factors and are at greater risk of emotional, behavioral, and somatic problems. Early treatment of children at risk may help prevent these children from developing severe psychopathology.