TalkingParents. A communication platform for co-parents. Open navigation
Parenting resources

Using TalkingParents and the Grey Rock Method

How TalkingParents features can support co-parents using the grey rock method.

Co-parenting is not always easy, and it can be a more problematic experience for co-parents with toxic relationships. Whether your ex is generally toxic or explicitly diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, these issues can result in an unhealthier co-parenting arrangement. A common approach that can help prevent the impact of these harmful interactions on you and your children is parallel parenting. For those who wish to combat the effects of their high-conflict co-parenting situation with a narcissistic ex on themselves and their children, implementing the grey rock method can help.

What is the grey rock method?

The grey rock method (GRM or "grey rocking") is a communication style people implement to protect themselves from narcissists and other generally toxic people. Grey rocking involves a person embodying the personality of a rock-- becoming bland, boring, and unbothered. By matching your personality to a grey rock, you deprive a toxic person of the reaction that fuels their actions. In addition to withholding emotional responses, proactively reducing communication is a significant component of grey rocking. The grey rock method best suits difficult but necessary relationships where distance can be achieved.

How do I use the grey rock method?

The grey rock method can be used in any instance where the person you're trying to avoid is trying to talk to you, get a reaction out of you, start an argument, or insult you. For co-parents, this can manifest in your ex making accusations about your parenting skills, insulting you, and initiating other negative interactions. In these situations, separate yourself from that person by limiting what you give in any interaction, whether it's a custody exchange or written conversation.

To use grey rocking in an interaction with your ex, you can:

  • Respond with a steady tone of voice
  • Refrain from addressing any insults or accusations when responding
  • Avoid making eye contact
  • Use simple, short answers like "mm-hmm" or "yep"
  • Keep your responses limited to necessary details

When implementing the grey rock method, it is essential that you do not tell your ex that you are using it. The grey rock method aims to make a narcissist or toxic person lose interest by withholding emotional reactions. Telling your ex that you intentionally avoid interactions and emotional responses may cause them to take that information and manipulate it to their advantage.

Above all else, ensure that your children are not on the receiving end when engaging in the grey rock method. This approach is intended to be used with one specific person, and it can be damaging if you act dismissive and uninterested in your children. In addition to helping your children cope with the situation, ensure that your efforts to deter your ex's toxic or narcissistic habits are solely directed at your ex.

Father and son

Are there any risks to the grey rock method?

Depending on your co-parenting situation, using the grey rock method may be ineffective and potentially dangerous. Grey rocking should be a temporary solution when you interact with a toxic individual, and it can elicit a severe negative response from the person on the receiving end. In general, grey rocking should not be used with people with a history of physical or emotional abuse to avoid escalation.

In addition to risks related to reactions from the person you use it on, the grey rock method can affect your emotional and mental health. Holding onto your emotions and maintaining a peaceful, unaffected image in high-stress situations can take a lot of mental effort and cause emotional exhaustion. If you choose to use grey rocking with your ex, you must also ensure that you take steps to protect your mental health.

Using grey rock with TalkingParents

For co-parents who want to use the grey rock method, TalkingParents can help to enhance these efforts and potentially protect parents through documentation. Here are four ways to combine grey rocking with various features in TalkingParents.

1. Keep conversations focused

For the grey rock method to work, conversations with your ex should be conducted in writing and kept to a minimum. Any necessary conversations should be void of emotion on your part, even if your ex tries to argue or insult you. Stick to discussing essential details and avoid sharing personal information. If your ex asks any questions, limit your responses to succinct confirmation to ensure you communicate without oversharing.

The best way to keep conversations in line with grey rocking in TalkingParents is through Secure Messaging. All messages are timestamped and cannot be edited or deleted, so any exchanges between you and your ex are documented. If you have to participate in a phone or video call, it’s important to control your emotions, but be reassured that everything is recorded. Accountable Calling provides the same level of documentation with call recordings and transcripts, ensuring that any verbal harassment from your ex and even-keeled, unemotional responses from you are recorded. These recordings and transcripts can help you prove patterns of narcissistic behavior in court if necessary.

Man smiling at phone

2. Limit in-person interactions

Although it is easier to stick to written conversations, most co-parenting situations involve face-to-face interaction during custody exchanges and visitations. Manage these in-person interactions as needed, but avoid other unnecessary interactions. While exchanging custody of children or facilitating visitation, stick to grey rocking and be disengaged with your ex without affecting the necessary details. When you have to communicate, share relevant information and avoid any personal details or emotional reactions.

Ensuring that all visitations and custody exchanges happen as dictated in your parenting plan is crucial, and making these in-person exchanges as smooth as possible can help co-parents avoid conflict. If you iron out details like locations, times, and other requirements ahead of time, you can avoid some of the in-person back-and-forth that might otherwise be required. With the Shared Calendar, you and your ex can share essential details related to these events, minimizing the need for day-of interaction. TalkingParents keeps a log of when calendar events are created, edited, or deleted, attributing any changes to the parent who made them.

3. Document interactions

Depending on the severity of interactions with a narcissistic ex while using the grey rock method, you may need to keep interactions documented for future use as evidence. Whether you need to pursue emergency custody or end shared custody because of a dangerous incident stemming from your attempts to lessen conflict, it is crucial to wholly and accurately present evidence in family court. Any conversations, interactions, or other actions by yourself and your ex should be documented in case you need to present them down the road.

Parents who use TalkingParents are one step ahead, thanks to Unalterable Records. Records provide a complete view of every action within TalkingParents, and they are used by legal professionals in courtrooms nationwide. With Records, parents can share their ex’s narcissistic tendencies and their own grey rocking responses with lawyers, mediators, judges, and any other professionals that might need this information to assist with their case. Records can be accessed in PDF or printed form, and each Record comes with a Digital Signature and 16-digit Authentication Code that verify the Record as genuine.

Records are available for these TalkingParents features:

In addition to documenting interactions, TalkingParents offers a way for co-parents to store relevant documents and potential evidence with Vault File Storage. Images, videos, documents, and other files can be stored within the Vault and shared with any recipient for 24 hours, 48 hours, or indefinitely via link or email. The Vault enables co-parents to securely store and share evidence and other documentation with legal professionals, therapists, and others.

Woman and child exercising

4. Take care of yourself

Whether you're actively using the grey rock method or not, your mental health can take a toll due to the physical and emotional effort required when co-parenting with a narcissist. When experiencing heightened stress from any source in your co-parenting situation, it is crucial to take care of yourself and avoid the effects of parental burnout. Some self-care tools include:

No matter how you care for your mental health, the Personal Journal is a great place to help you process your emotions and optimize your efforts. Every Journal entry is completely private and can include up to five attachments. You can store drafted responses to your ex that fit the grey rock method, make notes about an incident you want to discuss with your therapist, or write anything else that helps you process your feelings. Whatever method you choose can be supplemented by working in the Journal before therapy sessions, during difficult conversations, and after incidents that may require legal action.

In addition to these features, TalkingParents offers additional protective barriers between co-parents who need it. Whether you can communicate freely or have to block other forms of contact via phone or email with your ex, we are committed to keeping your personal information secure. Even though you need to provide a phone number and email address to use our service, that information is never shared with your co-parent. For co-parents using the grey rock method, this helps by providing an additional degree of separation from a toxic ex and preventing attempts to interact outside of the service.

Share this article