I have 3 kids. The eldest boy is 20 and is studying at University, my middle son is 17 and still at school and my youngest is a 12 yo daughter.
About six and a half years ago my wife left and at the time she agreed to my request that we maintain 50-50, week-about custody. For me this arrangement has been good as I have been able to maintain good relationships with the kids and also start and maintain a new relationship with my new wife of 5 years.
Life at my ex-wife's house(s) has been a bit of a rollercoaster for our children. In the 5 years that I have been with my new wife, my ex has had 7 or 8 boyfriends, none of which have lasted more than 14 months, and some that she has moved into her house (with their own kids) within days of meeting them on-line.
My ex is an 'intense' parent. Some call them martyr-mums. When she is between boyfriends she focusses her love and attention on the kids very intensely. She also tends to treat them more like friends rather than parent-child. What this means is that during those times the kids get very attached to her.
In contrast I am a more even, but less intense, parent. I probably don't tell them enough how much I love them, but that is probably more a bloke thing than anything else.
Of course, kids being kids, they can be incredibly selfish as most of them think the world revolves around them. So what has happened at various stages during the last 6 years is that any or all of the 3 of them have decided that they want to live solely with one parent or the other, whether it is me or my ex.
Now when they have come to me in that time (all 3 have done so at various times) and made the request to live at my place full-time, I have almost always said No, as I have told them that it is not fair on the other parent when that happens, and that I believe that the best outcome for everyone (parents and children) is the 50-50 split. There have been exceptions though, most notably 5 years ago when my ex felt physically threatened by my eldest boy, and I agreed to her request for me to take him.
Unfortunately my ex does not take the same stance, and while she may not encourage the children to live with her full-time, she does not encourage them to maintain the 50-50 access. I have found out recently from a mutual friend that my ex never liked the 50-50 arrangement and has always wanted the kids to herself. This has meant that my middle son spent some time in the last 2 years living at her place full-time (until she moved boyfriend no 6 or 7 in and my son didn't get on with him).
So once again, my ex has been between boyfriends, and once again my middle son is saying he wants to be with his mum full-time. Because he is over 16, he can legally choose where to live. He is coming to me this weekend, but this is the first time he's been at my place for 5 weeks. I really miss him and just want the arrangement to go back to 50-50.
Is there anything that I can say to my son to try and fix this? Should I even be trying to persuade him to go back to the 50-50?
I only have just over a year before he heads off on his own big life adventure, and I would really like to have him in my life for half of that time.
UPDATE - 20th April, 2017
Well 18 months later I thought I should share how things went.
My son is now half way through his 18-week basic training in the Royal New Zealand Navy. While he has always continued to keep up the contact with me (more so, now that he is away from home), he never came back to me 50/50 before he went off on his big life adventure.
He spent last year trying to get into the armed forces, and spent most of the year working after dropping out of school. I was dismayed by some of the decisions that he made, but without much access to him he got very little 'good' advice. His mother even encouraged him to drive around illegally on a learners license for most of that year. Which ended up with him being caught and having to sit, and pass, his driving test.
However, since leaving for the Navy he seems to have had a renewed interest in me and more importantly, my (and his) family.
My ex is still doing her damnedest to keep him as close as possible by almost controlling his activities during his 4-day leave over Easter when he flew back down here to our home town. His car had mysteriously had the battery drained so she ended up ferrying him wherever he (or perhaps she) wanted to go.
Anyway, I do feel that I have a better relationship now with my son since he has been released from the apron strings.