Should People with Mental Illness Have Children?

March 19, 2012 Angela McClanahan

Should people with mental illness be allowed to have children? It seems like a good time to ask since our reproductive rights are again on the political line.

The quest for a GOP presidential candidate has raised a lot of brouhaha concerning reproductive rights in America. Whether certain politicians aim to force everyone to spawn or limit childbearing rights to a particular set is unclear. The debate, however, brings to mind the question: should people with mental illness have children?

I'm sure I've caused jaws to drop by merely asking, but I'm not the first to do so. Various subsets of the population have had their reproductive rights rescinded since we humans figured out where babies come from. Involuntary sterlization is a very real part of our not-so-distant history--people suffering from psychiatric illness have been subject to the practice even in my lifetime. With an individual's right to birth control currently under fire, how far are we from returning to this obscene practice?

Problems When People with Mental Illness Have Children

Should people with mental illnesses be allowed to be parents? After all, psychiatric illness, when untreated or improperly managed, can be completely disabling. Consider the single mother, unemployed and often bedridden as a result of severe depression. Or the father who lashes out in violent rages due to borderline personality disorder. Are these people "good" parents? Have they done society a disservice by reproducing? Should their right to reproduction be limited moreso than, say, a neurotypical person who doesn't like or want children?

Beyond the child's welfare, supporters of the practice believe it necessary to rid ourselves of mental illness (not to mention mental retardation and/or whatever other unpleasantries hinder polite society)--effectively wiping the genetic slate clean. (Holocaust, anyone?)

The Truth About Parents with Mental Illness Who Have Children

If the only concern is how a child with mentally ill parent(s) fares, the truth is: parents with psychiatric illness can and do have and raise healthy, happy children, just like "normal" people. Mentally ill parents may also have children with mental illness--just like "normal" people. They may also, unfortunately, mistreat or endanger their children--just like "normal" people.

In my 20s, I made the decision to not have children--period. I doubted my ability to effectively parent, and I feared passing on my imperfect brain chemistry. At 28, however, I had Bob, who demonstrated signs of psychiatric illness early on. Was it difficult to be a "good" parent while managing my illness, Bob's, and his father's? Yes, and I still regret some decisions I made during Bob's early years. I like to think we made out okay. Raising Bob, managing his illness (and my own) and raising his neurotypical half-sibling has been infinitely easier with the support of my husband, family and friends. (It really does "take a village.")

Which is why, if ever I am asked whether I believe mentally ill people should have children, my response will be:

"Should anyone?"

APA Reference
McClanahan, A. (2012, March 19). Should People with Mental Illness Have Children?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Angela McClanahan

November, 6 2022 at 10:07 am

Honestly f all of you for the post. I have a child and have suffered with mental illness all of my life but I love my son so so so much and am gentle and kind with him. I am a great mother. Absolutely SHAME on you for this post.

October, 9 2023 at 5:11 pm

Shame on us?? I'm an adult child of a mentally ill mother & grew up in chaos. I was held responsible for the behavior & well-being of my mother. When I was about 9 she attempted suicide, an overdose of xanax & heavy alcohol consumption. She kept telling me that she had to go away for awhile. Her behavior grew so unstable I fled the house & locked myself in my father's truck, until she drove off & some neighbors persuaded me to stay at their house. My dad came home & so did she. As we drove to the hospital I had to physically restrain her to keep her from jumping. I was alone in the ER for hours until her mother showed up. I ran to her, & she slapped me across the face & told me "this was all my fault!" Not the 1st or last time she'd blame me for her daughter's behavior. She had adopted my mother & both her adopted & biologic family have history of mental illness. 3 of 4 of the women on that side never had children, including myself. My mother, as much as she says she loves me, never thought beyond "baby" & my emotional & social needs as I matured. She never really did much with me except watch tv or take me binge shopping. After several bdays & christmas, I was helping her take stuff back so we'd have money to eat. In jr high I asked her about a social problem I was having. She replied "oh, I have that problem," not Had & overcame. A woman in he early 30's HAS the same problem as a 12yo girl. It was terrifying & confusing as I still had to respect & obey her. It came clear that I too had problems with mental illness when I started cutting at 13 & ended up in the psych ward. I remember how angry I was- felt like I was being punished, when I just wanted my mom to act like an adult! Our relationship isn't as volatile but there are still episodes when I wish I could drive her to an abortion clinic myself! But she loves me so, so, so much.
So, F me for being concerned about people with mental illness bringing an innocent into the world? You said yourself that "you've suffered with mental illness" all your life. What if your son has it also? What will be your reply when/if your son asks "why did you have me knowing I could have the same problems? Why did you condemn to a life of meds & therapy, just to feel 'normal?" I truly hope that is not the case & he becomes a heathy, happy member of society & has a wonderful relationship with you! Maybe you've been doing some homework about parenting with mental illness, or working with a therapist? I wish my mom had done those things. It would've shown me that she was trying to do better. Even the things I asked her to read were largely ignored. It made me feel like her tv shows had more value than I did.
If you think I'm wrong & completely out of line, tell me! But please, give me logical & rational reasons. Defensive, emotional tirades will only solidify my concerns on this topic.

Craig Michael Vandertie
September, 22 2022 at 11:52 am

Whose to determine the rules or who abides by them, by that reasoning even the most wealthy and royalty with severe mental illness embedded in their DNA should not be allowed to propagate yet you have Howard Hughes and the Dupont family who did, as for those with titles the list of those who were afflicted with mental illness is immense due to inbreeding.
Where will the line be drawn, I am 61 with no heirs would really like to have children that is if I am not sterile, am afflicted with major Attention Deficit Disorder and a slight case of OCD both of which I can manage without toxic pharmaceuticals and you are a fool if you believe all of them are not.
I believe I would make a fairly good father making certain my children received proper medical treatment through Homeopathic remedies treated by a Homeopathist.
They would be properly attired and their diets determined by decent dieticians and nutritionists.

Some Dude
June, 28 2022 at 5:16 am

Mental illness comes from parents... sometimes yes, it is genetic but in my case it was environmental. My mother would flip out over nothing and so would my war veteran father. They flipped out on the two sisters I had with that were older than me so I had 4 people in the house that were constantly fighting over the smallest problems. Today, I told my mother that I needed some encouragement and love because I was going through a hard time. I explained it was a money issue and that the economy is doing really bad and I cant find a job. She flipped out. Asking for love and encouragement and then flipped out. Yes, I am an adult and shouldn't be looking for mom and dads encouragement... but it wasn't there to begin with even when I was younger or it would be scattered and inconsistent. Then, it would often be the complete opposite of encouragement-Degradation. My father would talk about him wanting to commit suicide a lot, he would say things like "I want you to suffer like I did" and then a few minutes later turn into a different person around other people. He was a jekyl and hyde which was really unhealthy. So, 20 years of this could probably lead a completely sane person down the road to self hatred. There are no door knobs on the rooms in the house. THey had been broken down by the people in the house. There was no privacy at all. No respect. Nothing. I think that certain people need to realize what damage could be done to people that are raised by people who are not educated enough to have children. There should be some type of parenting class of education from people who actually know what they are doing. My father also used to compare me to others saying that other were "bred" for success and used to get on my case about my mother being from a different background... It was just ugly. My grandmothers used to blame my mother-My Sister used to blame my grandmother. It was a really bad upbrining and this caused me to become a numb person that appears feeble. This attracted bullies. People naturally pick on people that are quiet. It was an ugly life and there is no simple attitude trick or adjustment for this. It was a bad experience.

March, 9 2022 at 11:31 pm

Those of you who are mentally ill in the comments saying we should not have children under any circumstances do not understand how fragile the human mind is in general. As someone with debilitating mental illnesses, I don't believe for a second that having them means someone shouldn't be allowed to have children. Why? Because it's not as simple as it looks. Mental illness isn't always a genetic factor, in the majority of cases, it's about how we were raised and what we weren't given as children that we desperately needed.
Our brains compensated for these needs by finding a way for us to survive, even if it harmed us or others. It is only by unraveling these things and addressing what it was that left us so traumatized that we can begin to feel empathy for ourselves and others like us. You must understand that, while it's very kind of you to consider that maybe you won't be the best parent (I know I wouldn't!), it would be beyond cruel to tell others they couldn't have children.
There will always be bad parents out there, but we can stop that ball when we see it and do better. We have the power to do that, whether mentally ill or not. Mental illness is a wide and deep spectrum that is impossible and wrong to judge with one swift hand saying all diagnosed will never be allowed to breed. You cannot "breed out" mental illness, and it's sickening to see that some people believe such a heinous lie. You cannot "breed out" trauma, a lack of nurturing and toxic shame. These things can and will occur no matter what anyone does to our genetic pool, purity is an absolute myth.
Brains are incredible, and we only understand the physical parts of them. Remember that. Mental Illness can be identified, catalogued and treated with the best option available but that does not mean we grasp fully. The rest of it is impossible to quantify, emotions, thoughts, personalities, memories, impossible to judge as unfit for human procreation, because you are telling someone that they are less than you, sub-human, for something out of their control.
What we need to do as a species is turn our judgement inwards and start tearing away the shame, guilt, embarrassment and harm others have done to us. It's time to start forgiving ourselves, learning from our mistakes and lending trust and compassion to others. The world doesn't need to be curated on a genetic level, it needs to be compassionate on a social level.

October, 9 2023 at 6:57 pm

Not all parents are aware of the damage they do to their children. Emotional damage at a young age can actually cause physical changes in the brain. I was raised in chaos by a mentally ill mother. Her biological family has history of mental illness, along with the family she was adopted into. She got pregnant around thanksgiving & by xmas was with another guy who eventually adopted me. Thankfully, I "imprinted" on him & spent a great deal of time with his parents who provided me with the consistency & stability I so desperately needed. I chose NOT to have children, as did several others on my mom's side of the family. Odds are, our offspring would continue the generations of suffering & we refused to take the chance. My mother never saw past "baby" & never thought about my emotional & social needs as I matured. I even tried to get her to read parenting books. She ignored the material, preferring to watch tv, which made me feel I was less important than her tv shows. I started reading them & realized just how far from normal our situation was.
There are children who survive & become happy, healthy, productive adults. I was not one of them. No, we can't "breed out" all of life's challenges adversity builds strength. However, life is hard enough without the burden of mental problems. When a person with mental illness & generations of the disease, want to have a child, I do question their motives. "I want a baby," is not an adequate reason. Do they have the skills, willing to learn good parenting techniques, or work with a therapist to ensure they can be the best possible parents they can be? Do they have adequate resources to provide for the child, preferably without gvt aid? That question should apply to all potential parents. Are they prepared to make the long term commitment of putting the child first & their needs 2nd, until the child becomes more self sufficient? If the child does develop mental illness, how will they answer questions such as: "Why did you have me knowing there was a strong chance I'd have the disease? What did you do to prevent me from developing the disease? Did you ever think about how I would have to suffer with this? How you could you do that to someone you supposedly love more than anything?" These aren't uncommon questions. What will be the answers?
For me, what this all comes to is the well-being of the child. And so many are out there already that need positive adult interaction! Youth groups, mentoring, foster care, volunteering with at risk youth, reading programs, summer camps, etc. These are also a great ways for people considering having kids to have a dry-run at it, without the commitment! I'm so tired of seeing abused & broken children all because parents were unable or didn't care enough to do the hard introspection needed before making the most important decision of their lives, bringing an innocent into their world!

January, 11 2022 at 7:50 pm

I am a 40 year old mother of 1 decided against having children years ago I think it's the right decision I made for myself I decided on that decision because I didn't want the burden on me having to worry about my kids and the burden on th having to worry about me it's not fair on me or them

March, 7 2022 at 12:55 pm

If you’re a “40 year old Mother of 1”, then your decision to not have any children failed...

May, 23 2020 at 3:13 pm

My mom had OCD and decided to have me. Even-though I was successful in my career, I have ROCD which makes it nearly impossible to be successful in relationships. In my opinion, the mentally ill should not have children, inferior genes make life hell on earth.

O.S. Lamb
November, 14 2020 at 11:14 pm

You are correct my mother has schizophrenia & a Jeckle & Hyde temper which has made my life a living hell she also has a severe learning curve i knew as an adolescent that she had some kind of mental illness I just didn't know what until I became an adult. Looking back I believe she shouldn't have had the right to bare children, she passed on her fierce temper to me & her schizophrenia to my brother it has caused my brother & I to fail in life not once while growing up did she give us advice as to furthering our education beyond high school because she was so plagued by her mental illness I'm just scratching the surface there were multitudes of neglectful decisions she made & never once gave us advice to persue gainful employment or become successful because of her mental condition the only book she read was the Bible which was a good thing but her education stopped there that's all we heard from her growing up higher education wasn't mentioned once by the time I figured all this out it was too late in my life to correct the outcome of the damage done in our childhood meaning I had to work so hard physically I was on disability by age 40. If you only knew how many other terrible things that could have been avoided happened to us you wouldn't believe it there's not enough room on this page to put them in writing but I will add this she caused me to leave home & get married at age 18 which in turn caused me to loose my family by age 28 my wife & mother of my children was so embarrassed by my mother's condition she had an affair with one of her coworkers like I said this is just SCRATCHING the surface. In summation, people with mental illnesses shouldn't be allowed by law to reproduce.

December, 3 2020 at 7:54 am

Hi, O.S. Lamb,
Thank you for talking about your experiences, but I'm sorry to hear you've suffered so profoundly from your mother's mental illness. Do you think it would've made a difference for everyone if she had had access to treatment?
I'm looking forward to talking more.
Sarah Sharp

October, 9 2023 at 7:25 pm

O.S. Lamb, my mom has BPD. Her biologic family has long history of it, as well as her adopted family. And by Nature or Nurture, I also have it, although I'm very different from my mom. Like you, any stories I share would just be the tip of the iceberg. I'm 49 & also on disability. If retroactive abortion existed, there's been several times I would've taken her to the clinic myself. I might be stuck here but there was no way in hell I would've ever brought an innocent child into my world. Why cause my most cherished loved one to suffer as I have suffered? What could I possibly say when/if asked, "why did you have me knowing there was a strong chance I would have the disease, too? Why did you have me knowing I could suffer the way you have?"
Too many kids suffer needlessly because their parents were incapable or didn't care enough to do the deep & honest introspection needed for the most important decision of their lives. Are they capable of raising a happy, healthy child that will become a happy productive member of society!

Craig Michael Vandertie
September, 22 2022 at 11:57 am

How strange, they say that like me who has extreme ADD maintaining a relationship is also difficult, I have only been in 2 both were tragic affairs destined to fail from the onset and had very little to nothing to do with my symptoms of ADD.

November, 30 2019 at 8:05 pm

I have Bipolar Disorder with Psychosis and Anxiety Disorder, I have wanted to have children but fear they will get my genes. Mental Illness runs through my mother's line, not so sure about the father's because my mother is a rape victim. The man I am seeing has a mental illness but it doesn't run all through his line. Another factor is the fact cancer runs in my family as well, specifically ovarian cancer. Three generations on my mother's side, including my mother have had ovarian cancer and survived. I was diagnosed at age 4, been hospitalized 13x, and have tried to kill myself twice in my youth. I have a very loving and supportive mother who is very knowledgeable about mental health and I myself am very knowledgeable about it as well. The one thing my mother warned was not to have a child naturally, aside from the reasons above because my mother said babies with mental illness scream and cry all night long with no end. My mother developed a sleeping disorder because of a lack of sleep. She said the longest I slept for was 2 hours. Honestly, I would like to adopt a toddler but I am going to wait until my mental breaks associated with psychosis stop happening every single year.

October, 9 2023 at 8:00 pm

You might consider volunteering with children, mentoring, or even foster care. That will give you a chance to be around children without the huge commitment of adoption. Children can sense what I call "energy" from parents & caregivers. My mom has BPD & from the stories I've been told, she could do nothing with me. Her emotional state wasn't calm & soothing, but erratic & impatient. Dad could pick me up & I quieted almost instantly- he's mentality was steady & relaxed. I've been through several mental breaks with mom & it's done significant damage. By volunteering you can still have positive relationships without exposing them to unhealthy experiences. It's also a good way to see how you an the children effect each other. If the interactions cause stress, you might want to work on that with a therapist. I'm so glad your mom is supportive & knowledgeable, & you have educated yourself as well! I wish you happiness and hope everything works out!

July, 1 2019 at 11:28 am

NO. I have BPD and anxiety disorder and you people are absolutely SELFISH. We are BROKEN. As the saying goes, survival of the fittest. In the animal kingdom, we would be killed or eaten by our own mothers. In reality, we are just going through the motions. Our genes are messed up. Why on earth do you want to keep spreading the weak genes that are defective? I would NEVER wish this upon anyone. Its a daily struggle. Some months I am fine, but mostly I have not had a chance to really truly LIVE. I do not care if you feel you are "cured" because you pop 10 pills a day and you are a zombie or because it is under "control" now or that it's not proven to be genetic (which it is very much genetic plus outside factors). It is very disturbing especially for those of us who's moods change in a blink of an eye. I finally realized my outbursts as a teenager were related to BPD. To the poster who stated BPD does not cause outbursts, ummm you are so wrong. It is not only an internal fight you are dragging everyone else down. I was told to check out the book Stop Walking on EggShells which I do not even have to know what it's about. How about humanity stop being so selfish for once and start actually I don't know making a difference in the lives of others or the planet. I have NEVER wanted kids even if I had no mental illness, but there are plenty of kids in foster homes who need homes. I plan to foster teenagers in a couple of years. BUT to want to reproduce my faulty genes are you insane? Just like people who have addictions, uneducated, poor, etc should not have kids. We basket cases should definitely spare the world of more issues to bring. Not only that do you give a crap about how the kid is going to suffer? IDC if theres a 50/50 chance why are you risking it. This is absolute hell having to go through this. I am now 34 and I would have rather not been born even though I have a good life. I have always been successful in my life other than relationships and I am very attractive. But in the end, what does that matter when I cannot cope and function fully? I am living a half life. STOP PLEASE.

July, 25 2019 at 12:49 am

I agree with you. I'm 38yr old woman. No way I'd purposefully inflict harm (bring a almost guaranteed sick kid into the world) when there's a choice not to. Get ya hun. Never had a second thought since I was 20, despite my friends and family 'opinions' all the years, that's their issues, not mine. I'll take credit for WW3 avoided (my gene's would totally produce another Hitler). NFW.

May, 23 2020 at 10:05 am

thanks for your response girly! thankfully my mom (were Hispanic) told me the exact opposite to not have kids, I am the oldest, my 2 other sisters no kids either, but at a young age I saw girls saying I wanna get married and have kids. I would roll my eyes. The sheeple's thinking is imprinted from the day were born. Like dude you're 5 years old how TF you know what a kid entails. What if you can't conceive. Are you mentally. emotionally, financially stable? Uhh do you have a penis who wants to marry you and donate his spank juice SMH. I am just so realistic. I don't get why people don't stop and think. No thank you. I have goals. wanted to be somebody, travel the world. Men and babies were the least on my mind. I want to start a dog rescue someday. At least I can leave a good legacy behind with the animals and people I can help instead of creating my doppelganger just because I WANT. It is not a need. Lol I don't think your lil kiddo would be Hitler lol! haha He was just plain evil.

Susan Rubinstein
March, 9 2023 at 5:33 pm

You are wrong and messed up. Im bipolar since 21 and had my son at 34 and he is not bipolar. I was pregnant again at 35 and my husband at that time along with my mother said bipolar people should not have kids.

November, 1 2023 at 1:48 pm

She's wrong & messed up? I think she's intelligent & realistic! Many types of mental illness don't show until puberty or later, as in your case. My mother had a tubal pregnancy when I was 10 & thankfully, may Dad & her mother talked her into having her tubes tied. She has severe BPD & really had no business having me let alone another one. I still have PTSD from my childhood, seeing her name on my phone can trigger a panic attack, although we are working to having a better relationship. Unless your sons are in their 20's, how do you know they don't have some form of mental illness?

Tonya Woodard
March, 22 2022 at 10:04 pm

Hello VixenMinx Jade
Finally someone who actually cares about the kids.
I agree with you .
I suffered postpartum psychosis after giving birth to my first child at age 18.
My daughter suffered and now she is the parent of three .
She is a basket case thanks to me and her dad.
I wish my parents would have made me get sterilized because although I love kids and never would I physically hurt them but because I lack sound judgement and emotional wellness I chose men who were not suitable fathers .
I believe abandonment by my dad after my parents divorced ignited my dormant mental illness gene.
I truly love my girls but they are damaged because I found it difficult to be happy as a singlemom.
I needed the love and attention of a man to feel joy during their early years even though the men I chose were drug addicts and came from broken homes ....
You are so right children deserve whole, sane and nurturing parents .
What a wonderful world this would be if we left child rearing to the ones who love children whole heartedly and who have the means and ability to properly socialize them .
I just argued with my eldest daughter because she verbally assaults my grandson who tells me his mom hates him because she yells at him constantly and he even told me he thinks she doesn't love him .....
I am so sorry I chose to play the whore at such a young age .
Now my grandkids have a narcissistic mom.
I apologize for rambling .
I wish I could make my daughter well mentally so that my grandkids will not continue to be subjected to unhealthy behavior but it is not within my authority to change her.
She is right about me abandoning her by leaving her with my mom at times but one thing I did not do is make her believe she unlovable .
I gave what I had which apparently wasn't all that much since she is mean to her boys
My oldest grandson was killed and they would curse each other out and she left him with his grand mom just like she was left with my mom.
He died protecting a teen girl from a gang of men beating her to death. I felt responsible for him getting killed when it first happened because I thought if I had been living with my grandson I could have helped my daughter pay her bills and she would never have moved to that run down apartment building where my poor grandson lost his life .
You see when low IQ women have kids with men who abandon them these type often begin to resent and detach from these poor babies.
Well anyway .
May God cover the children and welcome the ones into his kingdom who don't survive their parents.🤢🤢🤢

February, 13 2023 at 3:29 pm

This is something I can most certainly agree with. I'm a 20 year old guy who's been diagnosed with both ADHD and bipolar thanks to my mothers side. Though, while these disorders were horrific throughout my childhood years, I've actively worked on mitigating them and achieved success. At the time in my life right now, both ADHD and bipolar are controlled by me, and they work to help make my life better, instead of ruining it. No more do I take 5 or so pills, but instead I take 1 stimulant everyday, and have already been told that soon it wont be needed anymore.
Now this moves on to the "having children" portion of my post. My true desire is to be married and have loving children and I've been working towards this goal, yet having children the "natural" way bothers me. I wouldn't want to bring a child into this world and have them face the horrors I've had to deal with when I was younger, and since my mother's side is filled with horrific mental illnesses, I wouldn't be surprised if a child of mine inherits one or more of them.
So what is the solution? If one is able to effectively manage their disorders, I mean to the point where YOU are in control, not the other way around, then yes, go ahead and have children, but go down the adoption route. I don't believe anyone with mental disorders should be prevented from having children, but instead should consider adoption and if medical professionals believe they can handle it. This isn't me trying to tell someone what to do, as I have no right to do such a thing, but people in my or your situation need to heavily look into the consquences of their actions they take, because let me just say, my parents didn't and I've struggled and had to build myself up with little support.
( As a fair warning, this is a one time post that I made. I may or may not come back here, nor will I get notifications of new replies )

elephant memory
December, 29 2023 at 6:10 am

my thoughts exactly. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and ADD. I cannot function fully in society, even secure a decent job because of these conditions. I abandoned ADD medications when I noticed I was becoming addicted to them. I wouldn't want my life experiences on my worst enemy, let alone my kids. Sometimes it's better to be the bigger person and do human society - and more importantly your progeny - the greater good of not having children. The world has enough problems already.

February, 27 2019 at 9:18 pm

Absolutely not. As someone who is the PRODUCT of child abuse
Bpd. *C*-PTSD, ultra cycling bipolar, EDNOS, DID , nightmare disorder, crippling panic attacks, CONSTANT dissociation flashbacks. brand new ones at that. Ones I've never had up until 2 years ago. So, no. We should absolutely NOT have kids. I am a birthmother. I see my daughter once every 4 months the slicing pain that drills into my bone marrow...that guttural grief....that second guessing, the utter hopelessness , the near-misses. none of that compares to the fathomless endless guilt I'd feel if I ever hurt her. And THAT should be the standard. I'm sparing my daughter a lifetime of suffering by smashing my heart into smithereens .

Truth Is
July, 21 2018 at 10:57 am

Very extremely dangerous. They should never be allowed.

April, 14 2018 at 7:08 am

Ii am about to turn 54, and i am very thankful i dont have children, although i deeply regret this decision because i love them. i have been mentally ill my whole life, and would have definitely emotionally and psychologically abused them, as i was in my childhood. i have just accepted my diagnoses of borderline Personality disorder and Complex Post traumatic Stress disorder, which are rooted there. My deceased father was severely Borderline, as was his own father, sister who helped rear him and at least 2 uncles. My mother had been married to him for 17 years already when she conceived me, and had already endured his absuive behaviors for many year and was very depressed and emotionally detached already. i was believed to be a stomach tumor until i moved. i learned many bad coping skills from their modeling and in order to cope with my childhood. Dissociation, substance abuse, multiple eating disorders, displacement, blaming, social isolation, acting out, acting in, passivity, passive-aggressivenes, workaholism, and how to repress my emotionally charged memories and the feelings attached to them in my body. This has caused me bones breakdown, anxiety and panic attacks, migraine headaches, GI disorders, GU problems, frequent flashbacks (of which the sexual abuse is the worst). Like my father, i was very superficial and had undeveloped empathy. My father claimed no responsibility for the horrendous consequences of his behaviors on his wife and developing children, and the mental and phesical disorders he caused us. My Mom is 89 now, and sufferes from Alzheimers and numerous stress-related diseases consecuatively with PTSD flashbacks mixed in. But I am finally getting better after actively embracing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Prazocin, and PTSD therapy, and my life is turning around.
To put it bluntly, I would have severlely abused my hypothetical children because of my Borderline behaviors, emotional detachment which inhibits true nurturing and having them emotionally trigger repressed memories that happened to me as they grew up and hit triggering developing ages. I was not truly parented, and have not learned what i was deprived of experiencing. There are so many memories I kept repressed that are yet unhealed. And my kids would have grown up to hate me as badly as I did my father, until last year when i discovered the root causes of his dysfunction. I am capable of truly loving and nurturing others, but not when I had my emotional spicket turned off to protect myself from feeling more hurt. If I can't feel me, I could not read their feelings either. They too would be plagued and scarred by PTSD, and probably inherit BPD genetically. There are too many people in 3 generations of Dad's family who had all the symptoms, and several direct and indirect suidicides, as well as one homicide from a Borderline aggressive rage that traumatically orphaned 5 cousins. No child deserves PTSD or the inheritance i would have left them with, just as i didn't.
What is this inhe

November, 11 2017 at 4:21 am

Hello, I realize this post is old, but maybe someone will see this and it will be helpful to them in some way. I am a functioning Borderline (Borderline Personality Disorder). I have been managing the disorder well for the past 6 years, however, I am not naive in thinking it has just 'gone away', some of my symptoms do still linger and take hold of my life choices occasionally. I have made the decision to not have children biologically because of my disorder, as it is almost inevitable my child would genetically inherit this illness as well. My mother had it, my aunt has it, my younger sister shows signs, and of course me. Thinking back to my teenage years, I just could find myself to be a responsible parent to knowingly pass on this illness to my child. This of course, is my own opinion from my own experiences with the disorder. I have instead decided that foster-to-adoption would be my best alternative. It has been hard to accept that I will not have my own children biologically, as I wanted for so many years, but that does not mean I cannot have a family. Some individuals with mental illness can be very functional, and would make incredible parents. But one must consider the possibility of passing down particular genes to their offspring. This is my case, and this is why I've considered alternative options for starting a family one day. It does make me sad sometimes, but again, I'd never want to be responsible for the pain that my child may go through, I only want to be there to help alleviate it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 21 2018 at 3:53 pm

Borderline personality disorder isn't genetic its likely that you have it either through trauma during childhood or from learnt behaviour that you picked up from your mother since she has it too.

chris crane
August, 22 2017 at 8:13 am

i think yes & no,& it should depend on what type of mental illness it is,what it does to people who have it,& if the mental illness is or can be kept under control with either meds or if the person is able to keep it under control,& it the couple who has the mental illness weather its the mother or father or both,i think the county & state should do a backround check on both of them to see if there is anything posted online in the states computer system to see if they have anything thats posted on there from either law enforcement or by anybody that works in the court building such as a judge,that woould show any signs of any type of crime,or any type of abuse,or neglect of any kind that has to do with children,& if they find something,they need to prove if mental illness was the cause of it,if so,then take the children away depending on the crime & which parent did it,those parents should not be allowed to have children,or in my case,because i & my ex have no history of anything crimes,abuse or neglect against children,& they thought even though we took classes,bought a car,& worked with a fake baby,& made us give up our cat because of his marking due to my rep payee not giving me the money to get him fixed on time,& they still didnt think i was good enough for them,& there was no family member or friend here watching us like a hawk when their not here,they tried forcing & bribing us against our will,we wound up placing my first & maybe my only child i ever had in my life,& im in my 40s,& my ex is in her 20s,we allowed a family that my mom knows adopt my daughter,because the family believes that the parents she be in their childs life,she is already walking,getting big,very healthy,happy & is starting to talk,& she will be 3 in september,but all i care about is my daughter still being in my life,so this is how i think it should be

May, 11 2017 at 10:28 pm

No! Mentally ill people should not be having children. You´re just trying to justify your own selfish decision, your son had no say in it. As someone who suffers from mental illness with wonderful family and friends I can say that life is very fearful an painful sometimes. Life is hard as it is, when you add mental illness into the equation it becomes a nightmare. Your poor son will have to live that because you weren't thinking of him, you were thinking of you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 5 2018 at 6:48 pm

Is every human beings god-given right to be able to have kids I'm a 22 year old male I have post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar during to have a kid and have been in treatment 4 most of my life and I'm also youth pastor at my church

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 22 2021 at 3:25 am

Why? I grew up on a horrible home and have bpd, ptsd, anxiety and clinical depression. I have an 8 year old son who is very well adjusted and has no ill side effects from my illnesses. I go to counseling regularly and have a very supportive husband who understands that I'm not a monster who ruins my kids lives just by having a mental illness. Don't throw all of us under the bus just because a few of us are crazy or don't want kids. My son was an accident , i was on birth control and used a condom because i wasn't ready, should i have aborted him because of my mental illness when i workevery day to better myself and have explained absolutely everything i can to my son and keep an open dialog with him about how my illnesses affected him that day or week? No, i shouldn't have had to. Do not judge everyone with a mental illness as unfit because some of us are very very capable and good parents.

April, 27 2021 at 4:30 pm

Thank you for your honest response. Reading the post, it sounds like you and the author have a lot in common: you're both mothers with a mental illness who have supportive partners. I think you also both have a lot of regrets and a lot to be proud of.
The honesty you have with your son is beautiful and has probably mitigated any unintentional harm your condition may have done to him. The point of this post wasn't that parents with mental illness are unfit. The point was, these parents come up against obstacles, but many of them do a great job raising their kids, anyway.
Kind regards,
Sarah Sharp

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August, 6 2016 at 11:21 am

No they should not be allowed to have children. And I mean they should be sterilized. Have all the sex you want but not children. My mom was schizo. She got pregnant 5 times by different men. After she had each of us we were taken from her and placed in foster care. She appeared in and out of our lives. It was hell. Not to mention I was fearful of growing up like her. Such good childhood memories.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 12 2017 at 3:35 pm

The thing is, some mothers care enough about their children to get help. Just because your mother didn't want to be a mother doesn't mean persons with mental illnesses can't live functional lives and it definitely doesn't mean they ought to be sterilized. There are plenty of perfectly sane people who are shit parents.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 15 2021 at 12:47 am

so, where are these people? i don't see any of them on this thread.

February, 24 2022 at 7:31 pm

I have schizoaffective disorder and would love to be a parent I know so many people without mental illness who don’t want kids yet have them and then abuse them which makes my blood boil I know I’ll get comments saying “You’re a horrible human being” or “you should die” and such because this is the internet but I know that I’m capable of being a decent parent I’m getting help and I’ve never strayed from my mental health along with the fact that I’ve raised all kinds of babies as well as I’ve been a nanny and I do a really good job at that kids existing makes me very happy and I like watching them grow up to be functional adults so would you rather let someone who has no mental illness but hates children have kids or would you rather have me who someone who is mentally Ill but has been getting help for many years since childhood and is going to continue getting help even on my death bed, because I do love babies and I believe that mentally Ill people can raise a healthy child to become a fully functional healthy adult.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 11 2017 at 4:31 am

I'm so sorry to hear about your past experiences, it must have been difficult to see your mom struggle with mental illness like that. It must have also felt like a difficult loss, with her being in and out of you and your siblings lives. I can understand somewhat what you mean about feeling fearful of 'growing up like her' when you speak about your mother. My mother also struggled with mental illness, however, I inherited the illness. She committed suicide three years ago, and oftentimes I worry I will regress and end up like her. Mental illness can be a very scary unknown thing. However, I'm not sure if I agree that individuals who suffer from mental illness should be sterilized. Although I understand some concerns that may align with having children and those who are diagnosed with mental illness, there are many individuals who suffer these illnesses who are functional and make wonderful parents. I think one important thing to consider would be, what is the likelihood that the offspring would inherit the genes of these illnesses? Again, I am so sorry to hear about your past experiences in childhood, and I do hope that in the future you are able to process some of these feelings, as I know they can be an awful burden.

August, 1 2016 at 4:50 am

Should people with mental health have children how can harm children please let me know please i am concen about this

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 8 2017 at 3:46 pm


July, 24 2016 at 6:08 pm

Just to clarify. People with BPD often DO lash out. It's part of the cycle commonly referred to as "I hate you, don't leave me". I have been battling BPD since my teens, I am now 46 and I have many friends with BPD and I have done extensive research on the topic.

June, 26 2016 at 6:16 pm

I dated a guy in college who was definitely mentally ill. He was very scary and dangerous. To top things off he wanted to be a cop that would be carrying a gun around. He had become violent with me on more than one occasion. He was even stalking me when we were dating and I didn't know it at the time. I used to think to myself that I hoped he never reproduced. How scary the thought that he would have a kid dangerous like himself. Luckily I heard he never become a cop. Hopefully he didn't reproduce either.

May, 13 2016 at 6:37 pm

Life is a gift. My dad is mildly Asperger/OCD/autistic, look, I enjoy living, I don't want to die, but there's a lot of people on the planet. Mentally ill people should not have kids. I won't. I can't have a kid in good concious, they would deserve better. Just about the only upside to my family is intelligence, which most of the time means jack in our society. Adopt a kid, don't subject your child to mental illness.

May, 7 2016 at 1:25 pm

Just an FYI people with borderline don't lash out at least I don't. look up a disorder before you post about it. we have internal problems the borderline would not be the problem in that instance just to clear that up. our struggle is internal not directed at others thanks.

November, 29 2015 at 4:26 pm

I have been "different" all my life, one of six kids, and the second born in two consecutive sets of fraternal boy/girl twins, bracketed by two girls. My mother was a terrible alcoholic, histrionic and borderline, but also a brilliant former actress who once worked with many famous people. She gave up acting on a whim, came home to her father's college and met my dad. I believe my dad is Asperger/OCD, but was also the only reliable parent emotionally as we grew up. I believe we kids were all assigned roles to hide the elephant in the room, my high-functioning but very angry and drunk mother who hated watching her old friends thrive on TV and the silver screen. I became the mentally ill kid, and she abused me both mentally and physically. I won't speak for my siblings except to say we all had our own roles, but eventally all married, one is a doctor, one a nurse, one a writer, one a Navy helicopter technucuan, one an executive. I hace a niece at SpaceX. All the heritage of a crazy mom! I'm a former editor now on disability for bipolar. I have had a rocky life with an alcoholic ex-gay-husband and virtually no friends because I am bipolar. BUT my second husband is patient, stable, reliable, loving, and a remarkable father to our outstanding 20-year-old daughter, She is happy, healthy, has many friends, goes to a major university and is in a very difficult major. Yes, she gets stressed and hasn't really dated much yet, but what matters is that she says she would want no other person but me for her mother, despite the times depression or hospitalizations have kept me fom her. She loves me and is grateful for her dad, the "rock," but feels she would not have her creativity and sense of humor if it weren't for ne. We spent a long time deciding to have a child, and almost didn't, when my husband discovered two of my three stepson were doing drugs (one later died, and my husband has always been so grateful for his only daughter). I have never intentionally harmed my baby or abused. I have never known a love so deep. I think some severely psychotic people might not want to have kids, but I am not psychotic and am stable at lead 85 percent of the time,

November, 27 2015 at 9:55 am

I am 17 and have autism and I am in collage. all of the males on my dads side of the famly have ADD, ADHD, or narcolepsy (the symptoms can be simaler and most are undiagnosed) and most if not all of us are incredibly smart (none of us were below average intelligence, most above until the PTSD hit my dad, who lost 25 IQ points in a year and is was still smart, and one of my uncles who wakes up ever morning with no memory, and one of my unkles has the first round in his gun is a blank for safty reasons). after reading many of these posts I have come to the conclusion that it dosent matter wether or not you have a mental disease when it comes to raising kids, the most important things are wether or not you and your spouce are capable of taking care of yourselves and have a support network that will help you when you need it to, as well as you and your spouce balancing each other out (you and your spouce should know your own and eachother weaknesses and you streainths should ballence them out)

September, 23 2015 at 9:29 pm

Both my brother and sister in law have mental health problems and have 2 children and are brilliant parents I am not saying life hasn't got its ups and downs for them but they are very much united as a family their mental health does not seem to impact on children if they have support network which helps a lot people should have the chance to be parents as what the same life as everyone else a lot stems from stigma and lack of awareness of others

Debbie Willams
September, 4 2015 at 5:49 pm

I have a daughter that is mentally ill she is 24 now it was a difficult road for me because my husband at the time failed to support me because didn't realize it until years later mental illness runs on his side of the family and my husband was in denial nothing was wrong with her and all the responsibilities was mine alone to endure with doctors appointments, school was such a struggle for her, at times I would lay down and just cry not knowing what to do next and what made it bad was I had tried to set boundaries and when I told her NO she would go to her father and he would tell her YES and she caught on to that real fast so what you had was good guy and bad guy situation. In 2013 my marriage was falling apart due to alot of reasons looking back now I believe apart of it was due to our mentally ill child because in her father's eyes she could do no wrong and it built up a resentment and finally in 2013 I had enough was about to have a nervous break down due to me taking care of everybody including our mentally ill child and I had no support when I left I was the bad guy I let my husband take on that responsibility. We divorced in 2014 after 27 years of marriage and we share guardianship of Emily she lives with her father and basically my ex-husband turned her against me and I don't have her in my life right now in my absentance when I left Wyoming went to Montana later found out he bad mouth me to her also because of his untreated mental illness they fed off of each others emotions and they lied for each other. It is very hard to be a parent to a mentally ill child and even harder when you have 2 that are mentally ill and I believe GOD doesn't put more on us than we can handle. I read somewhere that parents with mentally ill children often get a divorce the divorce rates are much higher.I have often felt like it was a curse and life was hard to carry it around having to face a few hard truths being a good parent is not something you are born with kids don't come with instruction manuals it is something that has to be learned and taught with the proper tools and with the right support I believe it is possible to be a good parent with a mental illness and with the right environment also. Life for me is better now maybe someday me and Emily can have a relationship who knows. I got remarried eight months ago to a great guy and he understands the demons I have had to tackle with the mental illness from my child and my ex husband who presently doesn't keep a job and there is no talking with my ex-husband he will not reason with me he starts yelling and screaming at me and that is what it was like while we were married why I said I had enough. I also want to point out had I had it to do over again I would not put her in a public school because Special Ed is a joke the IEP wasn't working yet she received a diploma that has Special Ed not worth the paper it is written on if I had only put her in a special school maybe things would have turned out different but, I am happy now so does that make me a bad parent? I tried everything told my husband at time wanted to put her in a special school he threatened to divorce me over it many years ago he fought me on everything I tried to do so my hands was tied and bound with nowhere to turn. I also have a 18 year old daughter Sierra she has had a few problems not as bad as Emily and in the divorce I got full custody of her and he was only allowed visits in a public place because of his temper fits and also Emily was abusive to her younger sister for that reason the judge felt would not be in their best interests to not be together under the same roof to be physically and emotionally abused and he has no control over Sierra which he got mad about it is how he is when he doesn't get his way. I pulled Sierra out of the school and homeschooled her she started doing better after that she wasn't learning anything in the public school I figured nobody knows my child better than me and my husband I married to now he was there for me and supported me. God bless all.

September, 4 2015 at 5:46 am

I am a single mother with sole custody of my daughter I'm also disabled physically I have a lot of different autoimmune disorders which are the reasons I have a chemical imbalance in my brain which cost me to have severe panic disorder I suffer from 10 to 12 panic attacks today sometimes more . I knew it for weeks along in my pregnancy I was going to have to do this alone I worked over full time sometimes 60 hours a week my entire pregnancy just to provide for this beautiful little baby girl I had inside of me her father has attempted to see her twice and she's been born he has seen her for a total of 30 minutes she is now almost 2 my IQ is 137 I cannot work because I'm disabled however I am an awesome mother I am an amazing mother my daughter is a beautiful little baby girl smart intelligent she says over 250 words she's being tested for a gifted child even though I cannot hold down stable employment at a regular Joe Schmo job I'm still going to college full time for psychology my plan is to become a therapist and help others to have difficulties with their health should people with mental disorders be able to raise children yes can they do it just as well as a person without mental disorders yes sometimes even better and then we'll disorder is nothing more than a chemical imbalance in the brain it has nothing to do with your compassion and your love for a child my daughter has been raised to love herself I'm a firm believer that children are the number one priority I did not have a good childhood I had no self esteem when I was a kid I'm raising my daughter to be confident in herself to love herself your ethnicity everything about her I'm raising my daughter to be an independent strong woman I'm raising my daughter to have a voice and stand up for what is right my daughter is compassionate loving caring my daughter is my world I also do motivational speaking for people with disabilities disabilities is a broad term it focuses on physical and mental I inspire people around the nation to let them know that there are no boundaries sometimes you have to step outside the box sometimes people have difficulties in life but you have to overcome them it doesn't matter what difference does you have you are still able to become successful you are still able to fulfill your dreams you are still able to be happy all it takes is hard work and that's all I have to say

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