I’m an achiever and a recovering perfectionist, and I’ve found those qualities to be severely evident in my stepparenting journey. I’ve sought to prove my value as a life partner, to establish credibility as a trustworthy co-parent, and to earn my stepdaughter’s trust and admiration.
I wanted to hit that next mark to slide up the scale just a little bit closer to the perfect stepmom with the perfect stepfamily life.
It took me far too long to realize my goals were all wrong. While my heart was in the right place—I wanted my family to beat the odds and for my marriage to last—I had my eye on the wrong prize.
3 Fallacies about the Perfect Stepfamily
There is no perfect stepmom or stepfamily.
Each of us has different dynamics, histories, and logistics. These details make the idea of a single “perfect stepfamily” impossible. The same complexities that differentiate our families and make them so beautifully unique are the same ones that make it impossible for us to align enough to have the same picture of perfect.
Though alarming at first, this reality has afforded me quite a bit of comfort. It means I don’t have to be perfect, although perfect moments will occur, but it also means I have to work toward the real goal: creating peace within.
Fallacy 1: I need to strive to be a perfect stepmom.
I am not a perfect stepmom. And while the recovering perfectionist in me winces a little bit as I say it, I know it’s something I need to embrace.
There’s a sort of freedom that comes from releasing yourself from the expectation of perfection. Some days, you’ll only ever be able to show up as “Good enough.” And “Good enough” is perfect.
When we hold ourselves to the goal of perfection, we place unnecessary—and unattainable—expectations on ourselves. It’s detrimental for our mental health, we stop practicing self-care, and our relationships suffer.
Allow yourself to release the expectation of perfection and witness the transformation that freedom can bring.
When you’re less focused on if you’re doing everything the way a perfect stepmom in a perfect stepfamily would, then you start focusing more on what you, your partner, and your family need. And that is the key to finding harmony in your home.
Fallacy 2: Harmony is a destination.
Once upon a time, I knew that if my stepdaughter and I developed a tight bond, my husband and I were completely in sync, and his ex and I got along and respected one another, I’d have stepfamily harmony. I knew it in my bones. That was the goal I needed to attain.
I worked my tail off, and I achieved each of those three things.
And yet… There were still moments when my stepdaughter and I didn’t get along. There were moments when my husband and I felt like roommates instead of soulmates. There were disagreements with his ex.
I thought I was failing. I had worked so hard to reach harmony—where did I go wrong?
The key to understanding why this is a fallacy is that harmony isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.
Relationships ebb and flow. Circumstances change. People grow.
What has always worked, may not always work. Instead of getting discouraged when harmony has been disrupted, learn to be flexible and work toward regaining harmony.
Fallacy 3: Others determine or disrupt my peace.
Have you ever said, “She makes me so angry!” or “If only they would…”? Yup, me too!
But the reality is that if you can work toward inner peace, others won’t be able to as easily disrupt that peace.
It’s easier said than done sometimes, but when you can master this skill, you’ll find more moments of stepfamily harmony than not.
I always recall a Maya Angelou quote when I get caught up in stepfamily conflict, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
I always take action when I can, but when something is out of my control—as with much of stepmom life—then I can take action within my own mind. I am not powerless, and neither are you.
If you want to talk more in-depth about how to regain control of your thoughts or how to realign expectations of your stepmom role, consider signing up for stepmom support coaching. I’d love to work with you and help you find perfection in the present.
P.S. Is it possible you’ve worn yourself out completely trying to prove you’re a great stepmom with the perfect stepfamily? If you’re anything like me, you let stepmomming become your entire identity, and perhaps one day you looked in the mirror and hardly recognized yourself, just like I did… Maybe you’re having an identity crisis as a stepmom.