Are you Stubborn or Just Difficult to Manage? Either Way…it’s Good!

All of my life I have been called stubborn. As a child, my parents often called me stubborn when I wouldn’t do what they wanted me to.  I eventually would comply physically, but that didn’t mean I was complying in my head.


I had report cards that mentioned I didn’t always like to comply… I remember as a kindergarten kid, being highly offended by the fact we had nap time. I absolutely put up a fight, I was to big to nap. It was bad enough that I did not want to be in school but to be forced to nap….I don’t think so. Ok, fine.. I will lay on the mat, but you will not make me nap.

Even Dr’s have been known to call me stubborn when I question them, present my own research or opt not to follow their treatment plans. It reminds me of the old episode of Seinfeld where no Dr. will see Elaine because she had ‘ difficult patient’ in her file.  I am pretty sure the same comments are in my file!

We won’t even talk about all the times my husband has called me the most stubborn woman he has ever met…. although I often remind him, that he really does not get out much.

One thing that comes to mind in all my instances of being called stubborn, is everyone was trying to get me to do what I did not want to do. So… is that a bad thing, or is it just that someone wanted me to make their life easier at that moment in time?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has the following definitions of stubborn.

  1. a (1) :  unreasonably or perversely unyielding :  mulish 2) :  justifiably unyielding :  resolute b :  suggestive or typical of a strong stubborn nature a stubborn jaw
  2. 2 :  performed or carried on in an unyielding, obstinate, or persistent manner stubborn effort

    3 :  difficult to handle, manage, or treat a stubborn cold

    4:  lasting stubborn fact

Ok… so I suppose technically in someone else’s eyes I may be unyielding, mulish, and obstinate. Sometimes persistent. Perhaps even difficult to handle, a thought that definitely makes me smile. But there again, is this a bad thing to be, or is it just highly annoying for someone who wants you to do what they want you to do?

I won’t lie… dealing with a ‘stubborn’ child is not a picnic. Believe me, I raised two of them.  They were both very stubborn but in different ways. But when I think back to raising them , I realise every instance of me labelling them as stubborn was probably not that they were wrong, they were just challenging what I wanted them to do. Things like she wanted to wear flowered pants with a striped shirt or wear a dress on a cold rainy day. Instead of having a fight over it and telling her to quit being so stubborn, it would be easier to just let her figure out that it was cold outside and let her conclude on her own that it may just be a better choice to wear warm pants on a cold day. And yes… there is only one way to let her figure that out, she is going to go outside and be cold. Where my daughter would challenge everything I suggested in a very vocal way, my son was stubborn in a whole different way, and I may as well have talked to a wall.

A parent definitely has to get more creative when raising a stubborn child, and when a stubborn parent is raising a stubborn child the sparks are bound to fly at times.

But I do not always think having a stubborn child is a bad thing or being a stubborn person is a character flaw. I think it is very possible to use that stubborn streak for good. As parents, I think we should want our kids, especially our girls to have that in them. We should want them to question things, to challenge, to push limits.

When they feel accepted and heard, these stubborn girls are generally not crowd followers, they don’t often succumb to peer pressure, they are strong, march to their own beat and they don’t back down. Think of all the good that can be done with this!

If parents teach their kids to use this stubborn for good they will raise change makers. If, as adults, we use this stubborn streak to change the world instead of arguing with our spouse about which way the toilet paper goes on the holder, we will have a tenacity for life that pushovers and door mats will not have.

When dealing with stubborn people, in my experience, you need to let them come to conclusions on their own. Rather than trying to tame them, control them, or manage them, it is usually better to present the facts and let them make their decision all the while allowing the consequences to happen.

In my case.. don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me what I am going to do or how I am going to do it. That will instantly get my hackles up. Even if I sort of wanted to anyway, now I am not going to do it without a fight, if at all. I feel like I lose all control when I am told what I am going to do and  I do not like feeling like I have no control of a situation. If you read my posts on being raised in a cult, it is pretty obvious why I am like this.

When raising stubborn kids I also found if you present them with some choices it makes it easier, because even kids want to feel like they are being listened to, that their ideas have value and they have some control in their lives. Even if it is something simple like what to wear. “It is raining outside, and it might be a good day to wear pants, but I guess the choice is up to you”. Chances are, they will come up with the proper solution. Of course if they opt not to, the consequence is that they will be cold and next time they may make a better choice.

Help your kids to use that stubborn for more important things like avoiding peer pressure, standing up for what they believe is injustice or to just keep trying and not give up. These are all such good uses of a stubborn streak… why would we not want our kids not to be stubborn?

When I look back at many of the situations where I have been labelled as stubborn, I was really just feeling that I wanted to have some control of the situation, and that I was being listened to and being heard. I want to know that you feel both me and my ideas have value.

But I do smile a bit inside, when you call me stubborn, knowing that the definition is “difficult to manage’ and ‘ difficult to handle’. Yeah… that is probably correct. Chances are you won’t control me.

As for my stubborn children and  stubborn grandchildren, never change! You are perfect just the way you are…and never stop pushing your limits. Just use that stubborn for good… and give your poor mom a break sometimes!


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  1. I’m proudly stubborn too and believe you me it has gotten me through some bad patches when I had very little support. As a Coach I don’t ever see stubbornness in my clients as a bad trait. Sometimes it’s kept people alive and intact in the face of all kinds of abuse. Sometimes it was the only life preserver they could hold onto during a time when they lost everything and had only themselves to depend on. It can be an impediment when being harmonious is the better response in life when things have calmed down, when you have to unlearn some of the stubbornness and let others in or let others be right. But overall it’s no bigger character ‘flaw’ than being a very sweet passive person who gets walked over. Neither make you a bad person. Both just mean you have some counterbalancing skills to learn. We all have areas we could improve all through life 🙂

    Great post as always Michele! 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading Jessamine! Yes.. the world seems to look at being stubborn like it is a bad thing! Usually by those who are trying to get us to just quietly agree and do what we are told. I rather enjoy being hard to control and hard to manage!

  2. All my life I have been called opinionated. I now prefer to reply that I have strong, unwavering convictions and that the other person is still wrong. 😉
    Great post Pink Lilli

  3. I don’t think I’m stubborn – although I can be firm about something if it’s important to me. Maybe I’ve just had it easy and haven’t had to dig my heels in too often to get my own way! Our daughter was ‘strong willed’ which probably translated to stubborn at times, but we managed to find a balance between strength and toe-ing the line! Leanne | cresting the hill

    Leanne recently posted…The A-Z Challenge ~ Why Midlife’s Fabulous ~ Self ConfidenceMy Profile

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