Real Answers from Real Pilots

Breaking the News to Family


(Rodney Phillips) #1

A question for the masses…How did you break the news to family members that are/were unsupportive of your decision to become a pilot?

My situation is, wife and 2 young kids in private school. When I open the discussion about a pilot career, she is understanding about the cost of schooling, low pay for a short time, and being away at times. I’ve been able to easily explain this part. However, we always come around to the inevitable question, “How is this going to be good for the family?” Currently I’m miserable where I work, albeit the pay is INSANELY good and coworkers are great, but I want something more. I want a job that gives me satisfaction and something I actually want to get out of bed for. I explain that a happy work environment for myself is good for the family and that I won’t be miserable in the mornings or evenings, great pay eventually and great quality of life eventually…she always quips with, “this still seems highly selfish and still doesn’t look great for the family.” It stumps me every time.

So what do/have you done to explain that this could be a good move for your family? If it doesn’t seem good, please speak up as well.


#2

Rodney,

I’m probably the wrong person to respond as my wife literally kicked me out when I took the leap. She was angry, scared and frustrated (all understandable). Not to get too heavy but I was miserable in my work and I honestly felt I had no choice. The thought of being unhappy for the foreseeable future simply was not an option. I was a lousy father and a lousy husband so I believe either way I would probably have gotten thrown out. Fortunately we maintained a good relationship and when I actually got hired by an airline I guess she saw I wasn’t completely insane so I managed to weasel my way back home.

Hopefully you can explain/convey the importance of this and she’s understanding. While everything eventually turned out good it was definitely a serious strain on my home life and a chapter I wish had gone better.

Adam


#3

Rodney,

Having the support of your wife is going to be huge. We are not counselors here, but your wife’s lack of support is troubling to me. If you are miserable at work, she should want you to be happy as that will lead to a happier wife and happier kids.

Now this all being said, if you plan on commuting, your wife is right. Commuting will take years of your time away from you and add an untold measure of stress. If you plan on living in base, it is a great job that offers a lot of time off.

Show your wife the schedules section of this forum and have her come on and ask questions of her own, we are always happy to provide honest, straight forward answers.

Chris


(Tory) #4

Rodney,

This is a tough one. I’m not married nor do I have kids, but I’ll take a stab at providing you with the best advice I can.

Considering a career change, especially aviation, during a time when your kids and wife need you most would be difficult for most spouses, even kids for that matter, to support. You may be unhappy with your current employment now, but it sounds like your current job includes more than a nice salary and friendly coworkers; it’s giving you a lifestyle capable of supporting a family. If I’m right, it’s no surprise that your wife feels the way she does.

Disrupting your current situation by considering a career in aviation would make any sensible spouse uneasy about the future. You said it yourself. The pay is very low in the beginning (5 years minimum) and more time will be spent away from home. That looks and sounds very different than your current situation.

Is it selfish? Maybe. Is it okay to be selfish? It depends. I believe everyone must take care of themselves before they can take care of others. Is a career change to aviation the answer? Only you know the answer to that. Is there a time in the future that your wife thinks would be better for you to make this change? Perhaps when your kids are more independent? I’m just throwing out ideas for you to consider.

You didn’t share too many details about your current employment situation. I’m not suggesting you have to either, but if you strongly feel that you can’t wait any longer, and you want your family’s support, you need to listen to them. Get the truth out in the open. Share with each other what everyone’s needs are. What is most important to each individual? Is there a place in the middle that all members are willing to support? That’s where I would start.

Please get back to us with an update on how your conversations go.

Tory