I’ve been called stubborn by people who know me best my entire life. My initial reaction to being called stubborn was that I would feel like I did something wrong and that it must mean I needed to simmer down my ambition. As a mom of a young girl who also has a fully developed stubborn gene, I have begun to see this trait from a new perspective.
By definition, to be stubborn is to persist despite opposition. It means that you believe in something so strongly that it’s worth fighting for. You have drive, passion, and a belief that your opinion, your work, your family, or whatever is most important to you, is worthy of your commitment to it.
When my seven year old daughter believes strongly in something, I can see the unwavering determination in her face.
I’ve often wondered: Is it my role to dampen her spirit and teach her how to dial back that determination so that she doesn’t grow up being called stubborn all her life too?
Or: Is it my role to help foster her determination and teach her that persistence is what will help her likely succeed in life?
I recently found my answer in the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverence. The author, Dr. Angela Duckworth, is a professor from the University of Pennsylvania who has spent her career researching the correlation between grit and happiness.
In her work she has found that the amount of strength and courage we exhibit influences how content we are in our lives. She also says that if we can learn to cultivate our interests or passions, as well as our perseverence, we will positively impact our ability to succeed.
She believes so strongly in cultivating grit in our youth that she dedicated an entire chapter to Parenting for Grit. She shares that exposing our kids to a variety of challenging situations through academics, sports, and extra curricular activities can teach them what they are most passionate about but also how to overcome hard things. By holding them to high standards and expectations they learn what it takes to stubbornly persist in life.
I’ve witnessed grit in the women around me as I see them fighting for their right to equal pay and opportunity, fighting sexual assault and discrimination, their reproductive rights and so much more. I see grit in the amazing women who are standing up for what they believe in and endlessly fighting, regardless of society telling them that being a stubborn woman is a bad thing.
As I write this I realize that I want to teach my daughter that being called stubborn is not a negative thing. I want to tell her that if anyone calls her stubborn, she should kindly say “thank you” and take it as the compliment that it is.
To all the stubborn women out there: Thank you.