DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old son, "Mike," chose to move in with his father four months ago. He made this decision on his own. My lawyer advised me that he was old enough to make the decision, and that any judge would allow it, so I let him go. His father and I have been divorced for seven years. I am remarried, and besides Mike's 14-year-old sister, have a 5-year-old daughter with my new husband. Mike is extremely jealous of the 5-year-old.
We are severely cramped for space in our home and our 5-year-old's bedroom is ridiculously small -– in fact, we call it a "glorified hallway." Now Mike's room is sitting empty except for every other weekend when he visits. We would like to move our 5-year-old into Mike's vacant room; however, Mike is absolutely livid about it. He says it is "still his room," and he doesn't want anyone going into it when he's not there.
We could really use the space, Abby, but I don't want to push Mike further away. He says he is happy living at his dad's, but I am not so sure. I suspect that his insistence on keeping his room vacant is his way of making sure he has somewhere to go if things get bad at his dad's.
If we move our daughter into the empty room, we will still have somewhere for Mike to sleep when he comes for the weekend, as we have a sofa bed.
Should I go ahead and move my daughter into the empty room, or let Mike keep his "security blanket"? I feel that it is MY home, and I should do as I please. However, he is my son, and I love him and don't want to put any more distance between us. –- NO VACANCY IN INDIANA
DEAR NO VACANCY: If you give Mike's room to his sister, he truly will have no place to go if things don't work out at his father's. He will feel that you have slammed the door behind him, and it may affect the way he feels about you for years to come.
Your little girl is small, and she is used to the room in which she is now sleeping. Let the accommodations remain as they are for another six or seven months to be sure your son doesn't change his mind.
After that, review the situation. If he is still living primarily at his father's, remind him that it has been a year since his departure and that you feel, in fairness, the child who is living with you should have the space. He may not like it, but unless he's entirely irrational, he will have to agree with the logic.