Objective: To explore the impact of growing up with a parent with a bipolar disorder. First, we compared parental rearing behavior perceived by young adult offspring of bipolar parents with parental rearing behavior perceived by same aged young adults from the general population. Secondly, we examined the associations between perceived parental rearing behavior and parental psychopathology and psychopathology in offspring.
Method: Subjects were 129 offspring of 80 bipolar parents and their spouses and 1122 young adults from the general population. In offspring the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV was used to assess DSM-IV diagnoses and the EMBU was used to assess perceived parental rearing in both groups.
Results: In general, offspring growing up in a family with a bipolar parent perceived their mothers as less rejecting, more emotionally warm and less overprotecting and their fathers as less emotionally warm and less overprotecting compared with young adults from the general population. Perceived rejection was related to psychopathology in offspring.
Conclusion: Overall, parental rearing in families with a parent with a bipolar disorder is not more dysfunctional, as perceived by their offspring, than in families from the general population. Offspring with a bipolar disorder perceive their parents as more rejecting.