No is a totally acceptable word to say to your child’s other parent. Saying no allows you the right to maintain proper boundaries and it might just keep you from strangling your ex who continues to make terrible decisions. Being flexible and minimizing conflicts does not give your ex a blank check to do whatever they want.
Make sure that you are giving more thought to the word no than, let’s say, a two year old. It’s really not ok to tell your ex NO every time that he or she wants to spend time with your child when it is not their scheduled time. Think about it – your ex may want to take your child to a new movie they had been talking about seeing, or to a sporting event your child enjoys. Your ex may want to simply call your child on the phone. It is not ok to simply say no to every request that your ex has just because you feel entitled, or empowered to deny his or her request.
Remember saying no is a word that does not lead to opening communication. No is one directional, the word ends a discussion, it does not start it. The continual use of no, no, no, no to every attempted discussion by your ex will frustrate, if not terminate, any possibility that you two will ever truly communicate.
Normally in life you get what you give. If all you are saying is no, your ex will also share your sentiment. So be smarter than a two year old and think before you say NO. If you can look behind the reason why the request is being made, you can say YES from time to time, or you can even say MAYBE, let me think about it (so long as you don’t waffle!). It is really not that hard.
Matt Sossi @ kidsfirstparentssecond.org