I vividly remember the first time I felt like I had “made it” as a stepmom. Like I was finally validated and recognized as someone significant in my stepdaughter, Krista’s life.
We had been dating for about a year and had moved in together. It was a Tuesday evening, and we had just wrapped up homework with Krista. I handed her school folder to my then-boyfriend/now-husband, Kevin, to sign off for the day. He said, “Why don’t you sign it today?”
Kevin finally gave me the go-ahead, and I felt SEEN.
That seemingly innocuous folder represented so much to me. It would be seen by her teacher at school and by her mom on her custodial days. My initials would be there in black and white under the “parent” column.
I had been helping with her homework for months, but once I was finally able to sign that folder, it felt like everything changed for me. I felt legitimate, finally.
Turns out that validation high was fleeting.
What I didn’t realize back then, and what I want to convey to you, new stepmom, is that validation is an internal job. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone in your stepfamily dynamic.
If you show up every day prepared to do your best, you deserve to feel proud of your contributions.
You—and only you—get to define your role.
The role of a stepmom is incredibly unique. There’s no “job description” for us. We aren’t legally obligated to do anything for our stepchildren.
This means we GET to show up in the ways that feel right to us and that enhance our relationships.
As long as you are positioning yourself to fit someone else’s idea of what your role should be, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Everyone has an opinion of what your role should be. And often, those opinions aren’t realistic within the stepfamily dynamic (like with the double standards).
The only person who can properly gauge the success of your efforts is you.
What feels right? What activities allow you to bond with your stepchild? Which activities burn you out and do you need to disengage from? What allows your family to function as well as it can?
No one else can answer those questions about your energy and your feelings for you. So why would you allow them to set the goalpost?
You don’t need to prove yourself. If you are showing up as your best in whatever capacity feels right, you’re doing just fine.
Tune out the haters, and tune into your inner cheerleader.
Focus inward instead.
Because the only person who can truly understand your challenges, limits, and wins is you, you’re the only person who can offer the validation you’re seeking.
If you’ve read articles here on Stepmomming.com before, you know that I suffered from quite a few insecurities when I became a stepmom. In fact, marrying someone who had been married before and helping raise his child while his ex was in our daily lives brought out insecurities in me I had no idea I was capable of.
It was imperative that I work on my inner confidence. And when I did, all the pieces began to fall together.
I knew I was kicking ass at being a stepmom and that I was making a positive impact on Krista’s and Kevin’s lives. I didn’t need to sign the school folder or hear from anyone else that I was doing a great job. (Though it’s still nice to hear sometimes for this words of affirmation gal!)
As I worked on myself and my confidence grew, so did my feelings of freedom.
Letting go is liberating.
Letting go of others’ expectations and opinions of me was one of the single best things I did for myself on my stepmom journey. (Along with setting boundaries, clearly defining my role, and improving my communication skills!)
I had to learn to stop trying to fake my way to being the perfect stepmom in order to meet the expectations that others were setting for me.
Once I realized I didn’t need to prove myself, everything got easier. I could show up in ways that felt authentic and natural.
I bonded with my stepdaughter over silly jokes and random dance parties.
I was less stressed and more present with my husband.
I got out of my head and recognized that he loved me for me, not as Wife 2.0.
I embraced the fact that I’m not Krista’s Mom 2.0 either, and that lifted a responsibility off my shoulders I hadn’t realized was weighing me down.
I stopped worrying if my family deserves better.
Our home became happier, lighter, and easier.
We developed our own norms, traditions, and inside jokes.
I finally stopped having those thoughts of “Can I really do this for the rest of my life?”
Stop trying to prove yourself.
When you realize that no one else should get a say in your role, develop inner confidence separate from the stepfamily dynamic, and learn to let go of others’ expectations (because you don’t need to prove yourself), that’s when the second (much more exciting) chapter of your stepmom life begins.
If you’d like personalized support on your journey to more confidence and less desire for external validation, click the button below to apply for stepmom support coaching!
P.S. If you are looking for additional ways to make your stepmom journey happier and simpler, here are some recommended free resources .