Reciprocal influences of parent-adolescent borderline personality symptoms over three years

Erin A. Kaufman, Sarah Victor, Alison E. Hipwell, Stephanie D. Stepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leading etiological theories implicate the family environment in shaping borderline personality disorder (BPD). Although a substantive literature explores familial aggregation of this condition, most studies focus on parent influence(s) on offspring symptoms without examining youth symptom influence on the parent. The current study investigated reciprocal relations between parent and adolescent BPD symptoms over time. Participants were 498 dyads composed of urban-living girls and their parents enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study (Pittsburgh Girls Study). The authors examined BPD severity scores assessed yearly when youth were ages 15–17 years in a series of cross-lagged panel models. After controlling for auto-regressive effects, a measure of parent–child conflict, and an indicator of socioeconomic status, evidence of parental influence on adolescent symptoms did not emerge. However, adolescent BPD symptoms at age 16 predicted greater parent BPD symptoms at age 17 above the influence of depression. Results highlight the importance of considering the influence of youth BPD on parental symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-145
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality Disorders
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Parent–child relations


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