Hugh Jackman Movie The Son Offers Simple Life Lessons

I watched the Hugh Jackman movie, The Son, last night and it ripped my heart open. The movie is slow and sad … and so worthwhile. We don’t talk about mental health issues enough in our society. We say we do. We pat ourselves on the back for our ‘Let’s Talk’ campaigns. But mostly we pay lip service to the idea. 

Perhaps the movie struck me more deeply as we’ve been dealing with mental health issues in our family, but I believe it’s an important film for everyone to watch and contemplate. We need more of this awareness and insight. More perspective. 

When the entertainment industry deals with the issue (which isn’t often), they typically portray the person dealing with mental health issues in ways that further reinforce the stereotypes – and so further stigmatize and alienate those suffering. The Son authentically captured the experience from a few perspectives – the son, whose pain was palpable and the parents’ obliviousness to it (even as they prided themselves on their proactive approach). 

You may wonder what this film has to do with the Art of Feminine Negotiation ™ and why I’m writing about it. At its heart, the Art of Feminine Negotiation is about truly bringing empathy to the table in our interactions. It’s about putting yourself in the shoes of the other party and getting intentional about viewing the issue from their perspective. We’ve become such an ego-driven society that this skill has fallen by the wayside and is oft ignored in our daily lives. And the consequences of this approach are devastating, both in the short term and the long term. 

I thought the film captured this often-overlooked issue on perspective well. Hugh Jackman believed he was ‘parenting’, that he was handling the troubles with his son and dealing with it effectively. He chastises his son for missing school (again) and for lying. He thought he was winning the proverbial parenting battle. In fact, as we often do, he prided himself on it. 

But as is so often the case, Jackman’s character was approaching the issues only from his perspective, not his son’s. In their interactions, the son barely got a word in. There was no real exchange of ideas or thoughts. No real connection. No understanding. No opportunity for best outcomes or creative solutions. It was so obvious to see as an outside viewer. Not so easy when you’re in it. I’ve certainly been guilty of this approach. 

The stepmom talked about the son being weird and ‘not right in the head’ – while the son was in the house and able to overhear the conversation. Again, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all done this at some point. We judge. We objectify. We de-humanize those we don’t understand. 

The hospital scene was heart-wrenching … and authentic. The son’s desperation was something you could almost reach out and touch. The doctor’s professional approach seemed cold, aloof and unsympathetic. Even though he was right, his lack of empathy in approach scuttled the one chance they had to save the boy. The doctor couldn’t penetrate the parents’ confusion and worry because he didn’t meet them where they were at. 

Our reality is determined by our thoughts and the meaning we attach to things. As an observer, it was so obvious to see the ‘goodbye’ – which the parents couldn’t see in their hopefulness and relief. When we steep ourselves in our own desires and don’t take into account the other person’s point of view we miss the obvious cues. 

There are many lessons we can take away from this film. Yes, it’s slow and sad – that’s why we need to watch. Life is not an action film or a romance flick. There is no judgment or shaming in these observations. Rather, just an invitation to raise our awareness. To choose differently.

  • Be kinder.  

  • Be generous – not with ‘stuff’, but generous with our time, with our love, with our compassion, our joy.

  • Give compliments.

  • Give hope. 

  • Be inclusive - go out of your way to be inclusive.  

  • Find the person behind the stereotypes and judgment. 

  • Pay attention – notice warning signs. 

  • Do something. Engage. Don’t be an outside observer of other’s pain. 

  • Listen more. Listen better. 

  • Bring empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person in your interactions. 

  • Be curious. Ask questions. Seek to understand new and different perspectives. 

  • Be open to ‘different’. 

  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect. 

These are just a few simple steps we can take on the path to better interactions and to greater human understanding and connection. Imagine what a better world it would be if we all strove to invoke these in our daily lives. I invite you to challenge yourself to live into this softer model. The rewards will be worth it. 


Are you looking to up level your negotiation skills?

Please enjoy my TEDx Ocala talk
- Rise of the Feminine Voice as the Key to Our Future-  [1.9M views]

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How to Get What You Want from the Boardroom to the Bedroom

Negotiation skills are a woman’s secret weapon.

Art of Feminine Negotiation debunks myths and multi-generational gender conditioning that have stopped women from fully stepping into their power. Uncover the unconscious biases that have limited women from becoming the biggest and best versions of themselves. 


Learn the key skillsets that mark superior negotiators, explore how women already possess these skills in spades, and master how to start invoking these essential skills with intention in everyday life.


Hugh Jackman, Life lessons, mental health, movies

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