1) From the Perspective of a Child – Do’s and Don’ts for a Pilot Parent

DO…

  • Consider returning with a small gift after some short haul flights, this beings an element of excitement for your children while you’re away. The same applies for a long haul flights or even send a post card if it will be an extended trip.

  • Reassure your children if there is an incident abroad, for example, if there was a documented earthquake in the news near your flights destination, it makes a huge difference to call and say you’re okay. As younger children often worry about situations like this more.

  • Be positive when telling stories about places you’ve visited, if it could be an achievable holiday in the future, make it an aim to go there and re-visit the places that you’ve told your children about.
     

DON’T…

  • Forget to keep in touch, it sounds simple but even a text message can mean a lot when you’re miles away.

  • Overemphasize all of the trips you’ve been on, especially if you know it’s something that your child would love to see.

2) From the Perspective of a Teenager – Do’s and Don’ts for a Pilot Parent

DO…

  • Try to take your teenage child on as many trips as possible. Building up experiences of countries abroad at this age is both exciting and insightful.

  • Keep your family informed about delays or issues, and if possible supported by reasoning, to stop unnecessary worrying.

  • When it’s appropriate keep your work to a working environment and then spend family time together when you’re at home.
     

DON’T…

  • Mention all the things that go wrong, if there was a technical difficulty on a flight try to keep it to yourself, as it may change the way that your teenager looks at flying or even cause them to worry about your flights in the future.

  • Forget to spend family time together when not at work, especially after long haul flights. You could even take your family out for a meal or treat then to a day out on the weekend, if it was a particularly long trip.

3) Top Tips For Teenagers with Parent Pilots

  • Firstly enjoy the advantages that come with your parent being a pilot. If you’re offered the opportunity to go abroad with them on a flight, don’t hesitate, not only is it an amazing opportunity but you never know if you will get the chance again.

  • If you find yourself missing them, as a teenager you’re exposed to all types of social media, so it’s very easy to send a message or find a form of communication that works for you both while they’re abroad.

  • If your parent has been flying for a considerable amount of time, you may be used to the distance. This is an advantage as it’s easier to take your mind off the time away, and relax not worrying about the flight. If not, then it’s something you will become used to and being a teenager means you’re of an age where you understand their job more, this understanding makes the time away easier.

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"Being the daughter of a pilot can be both amazing and challenging at times. As I got older I soon realised that the positives outweigh the negatives, but it didn’t always feel like that when I was younger."

There are some very useful psychological tips for managing the absences plus some great ideas for managing the teenage years.  You might consider sharing this account with your own child… there are some tips for them too, on how to manage pilot parents. 

Being the daughter of a pilot can be both amazing and challenging at times. As I got older I soon realised that the positives outweigh the negatives, but it didn’t always feel like that when I was younger. I’ve been very lucky as the most obvious positive is the ability to travel. When I was as young as 8, my Dad took my brother and me to Disney Land, in America. We flew there and back in Club seats which is a privilege at such a young age. Trips like this enabled my brother and I to become used to flying, so we never experienced any issues with air travel.

Opportunities such as these are directly as a result of the ease of using staff travel tickets. These are available to us as a result of my father being a pilot, and have given us the opportunity to visit places that we may not have otherwise visited.

When I was at primary school I remember having to board once a week, to allow Dad to continue doing short haul day trips. In amongst the short haul flights were occasional long haul flights. This would often mean that my grandparents would have to travel and stay for a weekend or during the week to ensure we had someone looking after us, as Dad was a single parent.

 

At this age the hardest aspect was maintaining contact with Dad. I found this particularly difficult as he was my only parent figure and being away from him was something I wasn’t used to. As a result of this strong attachment, I reacted very angrily to separation. I often found myself not talking to him for at least a day on his arrival home, which at the time was my way of coping with the distance. I wasn’t old enough to have a phone, or understand how to use Skype whenever I wanted. Taking this into consideration, my first suggestion would be to organise and plan out, in advance, set times to call and stick to them. A routine often helps to get used to time away and gives something to look forward to, if I had done this I would have eliminated the occasions when I called and got upset if there was no answer.

For convenience my Dad stuck to short haul flights, my brother and I continued to board, once a week. As I found this challenging at times, one of my teachers recommended to me that I buy an A1 world map and pin it up in my room. Every time Dad visited a country I would put a pin in the map at his location. It almost became a game to me, to see how many pins I could fill the map with, or how many times he could visit one place.

I was fortunate that the father of one of my close friends was also a pilot. She dealt with the situation differently, every time her Dad went away she counted the number of days in the duration of his trip and recorded it. Her mum would then put a sweet for each day in a jar, so every evening she would eat one, until the last day when her Dad would arrive home. This became a distraction as she became more focused on when she would be allowed to have her treat than the fact her Dad wasn’t there.

As I’m getting older a lot of these issues don’t affect me as much.  I now fully understand that my father’s job is to fly and he thoroughly enjoys it. The only issue that still frustrates me is the limited holiday that he has compared to the long school holidays. As well as flying Dad has office duties, as a result of this, most nights he doesn’t get home until 19.00. Unfortunately, this applies in the holidays and on special days including family birthdays.

 

His office job can be very demanding in hours, so when he arrives home he is often tired, so we eat dinner together and then go to bed. If anything serious was to occur at work he could be called in at any time, so his work phone is never far wherever we go. The only thing that makes this easier is being old enough to understand that he doesn’t have much choice.

I’m now of an age when I have a mobile phone so if I need anything urgently I can call him, and if it’s not urgent I can send a message knowing that I will get a reply as soon as he has a chance. Now I am older it’s easier to enjoy the positives of his job. If I ever travel anywhere, or on family holidays I can be sure to visit the best restaurants, and see the unbelievable sights. As more often than not he has been there before and made a note of all the right places to go.

 

Little things make the difference too, I always know that that there will be fresh egg tarts and a new orchid in the house after a trip to Singapore, this makes the time away more bearable as it involves a treat at the end.

Parenting - A view from the other side

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