You were wrong to advise "Starting Anew in Ohio," the mother of a 10-year-old girl who wanted the bigger bedroom in their new house, to have her kids draw straws. When the girl made the request, her older brother said he didn't care. The time to have drawn straws was when the girl first made the request, not two months afterward.
The girl is at an age when children can be particularly sensitive about trust issues, and the boy is old enough to know that words have consequences. If the parents reverse course now, the girl will learn that her parents' promises mean nothing, and the boy will learn that he doesn't have to worry about what he says because he can always change it later.
These are not good lessons to teach children. That the father would bow to the boy's request made the situation worse. Maybe he'd think twice if he realized that his daughter will now always doubt his word.
- Judy in Ohio
Not a single person who wrote to comment agreed with me, and their points were valid. Their comments:
DEAR ABBY: Your solution won't keep the peace in that household; it will end it. A promise is a promise. And if there's any lesson more important to teach our children, I can't imagine what it is.
- Holly in Pennsylvania
DEAR ABBY: This is the time to teach that 12-year-old "young man" to be a man of his word. He made the decision that his sister could have the room. The daughter had the guts to ask for what she wanted. Good for her for asking for what she wants. Now they should draw straws to determine the outcome?
- Danielle in Wisconsin
DEAR ABBY: May I offer a suggestion? The children should be told that each year around the anniversary of their moving to the new house that they will change rooms. It may take some effort and energy, but the benefit would be that both brother and sister get to experience the larger bedroom. It will teach them to compromise.
- Tami in Colorado