Q We moved into our four-bedroom home 15 years ago and gave the biggest children’s room to our daughter, then 3, and a smaller room to her little brother. And then we had our third and last child. She got the smallest room, which is the size of a large closet. * She’s been fine about this room for 12 years, although she does complain a bit about the lack of storage and its tight quarters. Nevertheless, our kids get along well, share nicely and know that they’re mighty lucky to have their own rooms, whatever their size. * However, our eldest is heading to college in the fall and is already threatening bodily harm to anyone — especially the youngest — who would take over her room. She bursts into tears if I try to reason with her, even when she’s having a calm, non-fraught moment. I know that this has something to do with her fairly gentle but still stressful college application process, but mostly it has to do with herself. She isn’t ready to leave home yet. * To me, it is a real estate issue; to her, it’s an emotional one. This child is a homebody. She loves our house and our family traditions, and she can’t imagine what her life will look like in nine months. I think it would be crazy for us to keep this large room for her, as if it were a shrine, while her sister is stuck in a closet. * How do I get her to understand that she has to share her room? And what is the best way to explain our concerns to her without having her burst into tears?
A You’ve been doing such a great job with your children; don’t stop now.
Life will be easier if you realize that you and your daughter are different people at different stages in life and that you each have different priorities. However, they can be blended if you change your approach a lot, compromise a little and quit referring to the smallest room as a closet, because that just stirs the family pot. While it would be lovely if your daughter would take this small room, this decision should wait until she can bear to let her old room go. Emotions trump real estate in this case.