Change of perspective and one empathic question

Maybe you know the film from 1955, “Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne” with Heinz Rühmann.
The plot of the film is about his father role for a six-year-old foster son, and how the two are allowed to experience their moments of happiness before the biological mother appears and takes her prodigal son back to herself.

My then six-year-old daughter and I had watched the film together on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It was interesting how differently we reacted emotionally to it

For me, the film was melancholically beautiful and a little sad. I saw the father in the role of having to let go. For my daughter, the film ended with the most beautiful happy end. She saw herself in the role of the child. A matter of perspective.

A few years later, we were together as a family on the way back from an event with family friends, where we celebrated farewell with deep feelings. Our move from Frankfurt to Oberhausen in the Ruhr area was prepared and firmly planned. I myself had been working there for almost a year and commuted on weekends until our newly purchased house was ready to move into. The time had finally come.

What our children did not know until the return journey, and neither did our friends at the farewell, was the fact that a few days before this event I was offered the position of site manager in Frankfurt with the note that this was to be treated absolutely confidentially for the coming ten days or so until it would have been officially communicated. And this was after the scheduled private farewell party.

One can imagine what this news meant to our kids. No move, no loss of local friends, no new school environment. Of course, cheers broke out in the car.

But suddenly silence and my daughter’s question: “What does this mean for you, Dad?” She had wondered whether I had done this for the sake of my family and whether it might be a disadvantage for my professional development.

A change of perspective, and what an empathetic one at that.

I was very impressed, somewhat touched and also proud at that moment.

From a professional point of view, it was indeed a “lateral move” but still a good one, because I came “home” to my original homeland site and was able to lead an exciting and challenging growth story there in the following years. So it’s a real win-win situation.

The moments of the change of perspective we experienced together, whether during the Heinz Rühmann film or on the car ride described, we always discussed together afterwards and thus turned them into family experiences that have become part of our family history.

And this has perhaps prepared us quite well, all together, for the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world of today (VUCA), in which empathic questions, the ability to change perspectives and tolerance of ambiguity are highly sought-after skills.

And what about you? How did you prepare as a family for the world of tomorrow?

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