Extending research on parenting in mothers diagnosed with BPD: commentary on Stepp et al.Personal Disord. 2012 Jan; 3(1):101-3; discussion 104-6.PD
Comments on an article Children of mothers with borderline personality disorder: Identifying parenting behaviors as potential targets for intervention by Stepp, Whalen, Pilkonis, Hipwell, and Levine (see record 2011-05873-001). With this review, Stepp and colleagues have advanced our understanding of parenting and child development within the context of maternal borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is commendable that these authors have initiated the first theoretical description of how a diagnosis of BPD may affect the quality of parenting. At the same time, this article highlights the disheartening lack of research in this area. Given the paucity of prior theoretical and empirical work exploring parenting in mothers diagnosed with BPD, advances in this area could be buttressed by current conceptualizations of parenting and empirical evidence from related parenting research. In this commentary, we highlight two main concerns and provide suggestions for moving the research in this area forward. First, we raise questions about how some of the identified parenting deficits thought to be specific to mothers with BPD will be operationalized in future basic research. Second, we suggest that the use of a behavioral approach to examining parenting in this population will facilitate both basic research and future intervention work.