Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

Pilots as step parents?


I just wanted to add this post, because I get days where I feel like I’ve reached my wits end with my family.  I think most of us would agree, that pilots tend to be more ‘self focussed’ than other people (they have to be to succeed); not all the time-but definitely on occasions (in our house at least), this translates as selfish.  Bf can be fantastic with the boys I have from my prior marriage, but it’s always on his terms… If he feels like it, when he feels like it.

He is the first one to admit that he is selfish; but he seems to feel that by admitting this flaw-I should attempt to just deal with it, and let him pick them up or put them down emotionally when ever it suits him.  It has been the primary source of friction between us. 

I never hid the fact that I had children, or a past when I met him, and for ages, he seemed to be fine with it.  However, when we had our own baby together; he changed. His relationship with the boys deteriorated, because he said that he realised he could never have the same bond with them as with Baby.  Naturally, I never expected that he would feel the same about children from a previous relationship of mine, as he would about our own child; but I just get so frustrated that he doesn’t make a consistent effort to treat them all more equally. Not financially, because that is not his responsibility, just generally in the family environment.

I know that step-parenting, and particularly blending families, is challenging at the best of times.  I don’t expect miracles-I myself grew up in as a step-child, and had a very difficult with my step-father as a teenager.  He and I were quite obnoxious to each other at times; but as a young child, this was never really the case-he was always very warm and loving with my brother and I, and passed us off as his own.  Now that I’m all grown up, my step-father and I have a fantastic relationship.  In fact, I don’t usually refer to him as my ‘step-father’, because I think of him as Dad. I have two Dad’s as far as I am concerned; and in all honesty-my step-father has put more time, consideration, effort, sweat, and love into raising me than my natural father did. I respect him big-time for this now, because I appreciate just how difficult it was.

So, whilst I genuinely do realise that it is hard, I also know that we as adults, are the ones in this family with a choice to be here.  Neither of us has to stay here if we choose not to.  The children however, are just innocent passengers-along for the ride, whether they would choose it or not…  As a father himself, I guess I expect Bf to realise this, and to appreciate the situation that it places me in to be a parent in a situation where I love all my children equally, but see them being treated un-equally.

In fairness, he is better with them than a lot of fathers are with their own biological children; so it’s not specifically ‘how he treats them’ that upsets me-it’s the blatant inequality and glaring difference in his tone, patience, attitude and treatment of one child, compared against the other two (he’s not mean to them, but it’s obvious that there is a distinct favourite).   I feel that, not just for them, but for our own daughter and me, he should make the effort (even when he doesn’t feel like it) to be consistent and at least outwardly equal with all three…  The boys spend every other weekend with my horrid ex, and go to school, while she stays home-so it’s not as though he never gets the opportunity to lavish her with attention and spoil her rotten all by herself. 

Most of the time, it’s okay. But just every once in a while, we have a rotten day and we end up quarrelling about it.  Usually the next day, he will approach things with fresh energy and additional effort.  The thing is, I don’t want this up and down ‘super-star dad’ one minute and void blank the next… I crave reasonable consistency. He has agreed to seek step-parent counselling, which is definitely promising, but he is sceptical of counsellors, and feels that they cant tell him something he doesn’t already know.  I have to wonder whether; with such a ‘closed mind’ it’s worth him bothering with this route?

His intentions are genuine though.  I know (and he says) that he wishes he could just flick a switch on inside himself to turn on those emotions instantly.  Unfortunately wanting something and feeling/doing it, are two completely different things.  It’s a shame, because the boys are very good children. Bf is very quick to agree on this point; but this is not enough to make being their step-father an effortless process…  I was told by a professional counsellor once, that men often struggle more with raising step-sons than step-daughters and vice-versa for women; because step-parents will tend to identify a same gender child more with their estranged parent (their beloved’s ex).  This does make sense to me, but it also frustrates me-since it is not the boys faults.

Bf really is a good man at heart; but he is struggling to know what kind of relationship he is capable of having with the boys right now-because he’s too pre-occupied with how it could backfire on him in the future. He’s always coming up with ‘what if’ scenarios; and asking how I would react to x, y or z situation.  I know that this is personality trait serves him well professionally-in fact, it was ingrained in him during the training process-constantly anticipating the worst case scenario, planning for it, practicing for it in a sim over and over again-but I wish he’d realise that they’re just children, not jets-we can’t rehearse every possible disaster that might happen!  I desperately want to help support him, but at the same time, my natural mother’s instinct is to be ‘protective’ of my children (not sure that’s the right word, but you know what I mean).

Has anyone else experienced similar difficulties, or had a pilot that has struggled to come to terms with it? Maybe you are a pilot step dad? Any which way, I would really love to know how you over came the issue; or how you deal with it… In fact ANY advice would be warmly welcome as long as it’s constructive.


7 Responses to “Pilots as step parents?”

  1. I’ve also wondered about how my husband’s parenting will change when we have another child. Rosie was adopted over 3 years ago, and it’s been just the 3 of us for so long. But I understand what you said, about parenting on “his terms.” Taylor’s attentive when he realized he needs to be, but he also will set Rosie in front of the tv when he needs time for himself…just like his parents did.

  2. Hey! Just popped back in to ask you if you’ve seen the latest pilot doodle on my blog.

    I read your post. It’s a difficult situation. There is also the difference that the child you share is a girl as oppose to boys. I think that there is a natural difference between the way a father might treat his daughter as oppose to a son – even if they were all three his own.

    Also, she’s the baby! That makes a big difference too.

  3. I know nothing about the whole piloting world but from a fresh perspective I’d say it’s much harder for men to be step parents than it is for women to be. We have the in-built maternal instincts, we know how to be fair and divide our love. Men (god love them) aren’t so quick on the take up. I think you have to look at what bf does do, not what he doesn’t and try to understand that he will never have the same relationship with the boys that you do. But he’s there for them, providing for them, looking after you and creating a secure family environment. Maybe the older and wiser he becomes, the relationship will evolve. I bet it’s hard for you though – you must feel fiercely protective of them and their emotions.

  4. I’ve been meaning to respond to this. We’re a step-parent family too and even though step dad has been in Kidzilla’s life longer than out, I’ve come to admit that there will always be an issue.

    Although we don’t share any children now, I know in my heart that there will be a difference in how they are treated if another does come. Although at this point, it will be able to be explained away as age difference.

    Kidzilla spends very little time with bio-dad, only 32 days a year, usually in a lump in the summer, so his step dad is very much is dad. He’s done the bulk of raising him. I know that in the back of A’s mind is always the nagging though that if something were to happen to me, Kidzilla would be ripped away from him and probably not be allowed to see him again. It’s hard to share a true bond when that is always in the back of one’s head.

    Although it seems as though their relationship is rockier than mine and has it’s on and off days, I give A a ton of credit for trying and try to come up with activities for them to do together and also try to help them understand each others behavior and how to deal with.

    It could always be worse!

  5. Hey Partner, I’ve started my annual giveaway over on my blog. I would be honored if you popped over and signed up for a chance to win something.

  6. Nicole – from what you have told me, I am sure that Taylor will be just fine. I think that the fact that your ex is now out of the picture completely-must help the bonding process between them.

    Rick – Thank you for your comment. I am sure that the fact that she’s the baby of the family, and a little girl is undoubtedly a part of the difference; I also know in my heart that there is a deeper underlying difference, which may as Someday says be to do with ‘if something were to happen to me, the children would be ripped away from him and probably not be allowed to see him again. It’s hard to share a true bond when that is always in the back of one’s head.’

    Also I know that he feels that by giving equally of himself to my boys makes him feel like he is selling his own daughter short of what he could be capable of giving her in time and means without them.

    Someday – I really appreciate that you took the time to respond to this post. Out of interest what activities do your man and Kidzilla do together? Bf is quite good with me older son, but is less able to find activities he can participate in with my 5 (almost 6) year old… Unfortunately, my boys bio-dad see’s them for 2 days every fortnight.

    Bio-dad gives them treats that he knows they’re not allowed here, buys them presents that I think they’re too young for on birthdays and at Christmas, lets them stay up far too late, and never reminds them to say ‘please and thank you’. It is very frustrating for Bf and me, because they always return home over-tired, on a sugar high and grumpy (usually on Sunday night before school too).

    I know that Bf feels like Bio-dad undoes a lot of the good work that we do with them. Their relationship is always at it’s most strained just as they return home from a trip to see Bio-dad.

    Bf says that it used to hurt him a lot more emotionally before we had Baby… He used to feel very jealous of Bio-dad and wished that they didn’t have to see him at all. Since we had Baby though, he seems to have detatched more emotionally, and just get’s irritable rather than upset (I’m not sure which is worse). He says that distancing himself emotionally from my boys helps him live with his feelings, by focusing more on his natural daughter.

    But obviously this is having a negative effect on how we bond as a family unit. To be honest, it feels like there is an invisible line segregating this family; with myself and Baby standing with a foot on either side of the divide.

    Hopefully some step-parent counselling will help; otherwise I don’t know how we will move forward. The boys are fast approaching an age of awareness, where it will not be possible to pass this off as anything other than unfair.

  7. I’ve always worried about this with Lilly and Jeff. But when I see their relationship together, I get really excited over it. They have such a great relationship, that when I am around and he is around, its almost like I don’t exist because they have such a great connection. I remember the first time the three of us ever got to spend time together. We went to lunch, and I got up from the table to go to the salad bar. And as I was getting salad, this man came up to me in the line and said, “You guys look like you are having so much fun!” and I turned and looked at the table to see what was going on, and there they were. Lost in their own little world. I was in such shock.

    Just recently before Christmas, Jeff and I hit a big bump in the road, and decided to take some time off from the relationship to observe our friendship, and to make sure we really do want a relationship with one another. But the relationship he has with Lilly has never changed. They are still close as ever, in fact, he is coming to her b-day party with his parents! We are planning a mini-trip to Austin to go to Carnivale together, and I think that will be our time to decide if we really think we can make it work, or if we are just going to part ways for sure. All I know is, I cannot force him to love me, that is something he has to do on his own. I cannot force him to love my child either. But I believe that there is a reason we are the way we are, and hopefully all will work itself out.

    I remember this blog you wrote about pilots and marriage. I think that because they overanalyze every single thing, that they want to make sure that they are making a GREAT decision. And I know, BF loves you and the kids every much. He would have left a long time ago if he didn’t. But its almost like we want the men to be emotionally mature enough for us to be in a marriage, and it may take awhile for them to get there.

    I can say this, whoever Jeff decides to have a life with, me or someone else, they will be one lucky woman, because when he commits and says he is going to do something, he ALWAYS follows through. And I am pretty sure that is one of the greatest things about pilots, when they commit, they do it for the long haul!

    I will try and keep up with the blogs! SORRY! I am sure you guys will get through everything. It’s just a small bump in the road, but its better to go through it now than later!!! *HUGS*!

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