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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am engaged to a wonderful man who lives in a neighboring state, roughly six hours away. We see each other by taking turns driving on the weekends. One weekend he drives here, another I drive there. He has a steady job with a generous salary and a son he would be unable to move because the mother has custody and won't permit it. I have two children, 11 and 3, and want to relocate to his area.

My problem is my 11-year-old son, who insists he wants to live with me but doesn't want to move away. He has never visited the area, but is convinced he will hate it. His father is no help and tells our son he will never get to see his friends or family. I don't feel comfortable letting my son stay here with his father because of his past drug and alcohol abuse, and because he works 14-hour night shifts and lives in a one-bedroom apartment. I don't think he can give our son the time or upbringing he needs.

My son has a great relationship with my fiance, but doesn't want to move to his area. I have insisted my son go and at least give it a chance. This is tearing me apart.

Is it wrong or selfish of me to insist my son go with me when he has expressed that he doesn't want to relocate? -- STUCK IN NEWARK, N.J.

DEAR STUCK: Not at all, considering the alternative of leaving him where you presently live, in the care of a single parent who is absent 14 hours at a crack.

While your son's fears about leaving the familiar and moving to another state are understandable, you cannot allow your child to make this decision for you. Your husband is unable to provide for the boy, and there really is no other choice for him.

Tell your son that you insist he go with you and at least give his new surroundings a chance. Give him your assurance he will see his friends and family, and that he can call and correspond by e-mail. Arrange for his friends to visit in his new home occasionally. And hope that his father will also come to see his son.

If, after one year, your son still "hates" it, promise to discuss what his other options might be.

P.S. If the boy appears to have trouble adjusting, get him counseling immediately.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I just returned from a two-day visit at the home of our son and daughter-in-law. They have two guest rooms. Ours is a loving marriage and we like to sleep in the same bed. The room with the double bed was given to our daughter-in-law's widowed mother. We were put in the guest room with two single beds.

No explanation was given as to why we were assigned the room with the two single beds. We felt it was a deliberate choice made by our daughter-in-law, and it hurt us deeply. It made us feel unwelcome in their home.

We would still like to visit them, but are tempted to stay in a hotel next time. Have you any suggestions as to how this should be handled in the future? -- COZY COUPLE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR COZY: I don't think your son and daughter-in-law meant any offense. But don't take this lying down. The next time you plan to visit your son and daughter-in-law, request the double bed. If it is already spoken for, arrange to stay at a hotel where you'll be comfortable.

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