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Parenting Stepchildren/My stepdaughter's mom is borderline (BPD)


I've been in my 12 yo stepdaughter's life for 5 years, married to her dad for 4. He has had full custody since they divorced when she was 3. Mom lived in town for a few months then moved 2.5 hrs away for a year or so, now she lives across the country in a resort town. She exhibited no signs of mental disorder while they dated, became pregnant and wed at age 19/20. She was great with her as a baby and very attentive. She began to exhibit symptoms of BPD and acted destructively and aggressively in front of their child, physically attacked my husband and ultimately the marriage ended, despite couples' counseling. She was diagnosed as classic borderline by counselor and she refused diagnosis and treatment, spit on counselor and stormed off.  
Fast forward to today. She sees her daughter a few times per year, it's always peppered with incidents of her loosing her cool, screaming, threatening, terrorizing emotionally. My SD says she wishes she wouldn't have to deal with her anymore and I can see why. I want to bring SD to counseling to either give her tools to deal with her mom or to help open the conversation about removing herself from contact with her. I'm not sure which path is appropriate. Her influence goes deep: extravagant purchases, edgy clothing and makeup, bad example of how to behave socially. But there's also love there. My SD always has a period of adjusting back to a more relaxed and even state after these visits. I'm also not certain that we could arrange removal of visitation without having to go to court to have the custody arrangement changed. Any advice or insight would be welcomed!


The goals for your SD counseling should be her own. Take the pressure off of yourself in that regard. Present her to counseling, with parental consent, and allow the therapist to work with her about what her goals are specifically. While it may be a difficult situation to watch the interactions with your SD and her mother, you are correct that you would need judicial intervention in order to make changes in that regard. Try to support your SD in her times of adjustment and help her to voice her concerns directly to her mother should there be any.  

Parenting Stepchildren

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KaRae' Carey, PhD


I can answer questions that pertain to challenges stepparents face, as well as challenges with adjustment and integration of the stepfamily. I can answer questions about psychological, emotional, and social changes that affect adults and children in stepfamilies. I can answer questions that have to do with the emotional and psychological impact of stepfamilies pertaining to child support, visitation, or divorce.


I am a stepmother to one boy and one girl. I have been in their lives since they were about 8 years old. I have first-hand "real life" experience with 'baby mama drama' and strains in marriage due to the complications and challenge that being a new stepmother presented. Bio: Inspired and motivated by her experiences as both a stepdaughter and stepmother of two children, Dr. Carey founded the Triangle Stepfamily Institute and is committed to empowering stepfamilies. She has first-hand experience both personally and professionally, with the difficulties people may experience when adjusting to stepfamily life. Dr. Carey believes that with the right support, and armed with knowledge, living harmoniously within a stepfamily is possible. She has dedicated countless hours to understanding the delicate functioning of the stepfamily and has produced several articles related to stepfamily relationships and functioning. Dr. Carey has studied with research pioneers and clinical leaders in the field of stepfamily life. She has also conducted independent research about stepfamilies with a focus on the concerns of the stepmother. She has also earned certification as a stepfamily counselor. Dr. Carey has also earned seven specialty certifications. Dr. Carey’s specialty certifications include being a nationally certified professional counselor, an accredited clinical supervisor, a credentialed distance counselor, board certified health services professional, school guidance counselor, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and a certified stepfamily counselor. For more information on services, or to request Dr. Carey for counseling, interviews, or speaking opportunities, please contact her through her web site, or by calling 919-454-7857.

National Association of Professional Women American Counseling Association Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina

Publications, expert author

Oakland University, Rochester, MI Ph.D. in Counselor Education 2009 Dissertation: “The Experience of the African American Stepmother: An Exploratory Investigation ” Honors: Dissertation nominated for 2010 Outstanding Humanistic Dissertation Award Cognate Concentrations: Child and Adolescent Mental Health & School Guidance Counseling Major Advisor: Robert Fink, PhD Madonna University, Livonia, MI M.S. in Clinical Psychology 2002 Madonna University, Livonia, MI B.S. Psychology 2000 Cartified Stepfamily Counselor, Stepfamily Foundation, 2011 • Licensed Professional Counselor, State of North Carolina, (6893) • National Certified Counselor, NBCC, (234907) • Credentialed Distance Counselor, CCE, (966) • Approved Clinical Supervisor, CCE, (ACS01058) • Board Certified Health Services Professional, CCE, (1472) • Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist- Provisional- State of North Carolina • Licensed Bachelor of Social Work, State of Michigan, (6802084095) • Limited Licensed Psychologist, State of Michigan, (6301012018) • Social Worker Registration, State of Michigan, (6803075415) • School Counselor license (K-12), State of Michigan, (SC000554) • School Counselor license (K-12), State of North Carolina, (XXXXX2200)

Awards and Honors
•Kappa Gamma Pi, National Catholic College Honor Society, inducted 2000 •Chi Sigma Iota, Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International, inducted 2005 •Robert Brown Memorial Fund Scholarship, 2005

Past/Present Clients
Step family members, children, adults, teens

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