When you should not use the Gray Rock Method


If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I recommend the Gray Rock Method to moms with toxic Exes. I wrote a blog article on this relatively early on, which I refer to again and again when it comes to training a more calm attitude towards the child’s father.

The Gray Rock Method is in any case a first step into a new mental attitude, which will bring you something in any case.

This is especially true when your child is still very small, you are newly separated, and you still tremble when he stands at the door for the child handover.

However, this method should be treated with caution from a very specific point of view. More about this below.

When should you use the Gray Rock Method?

Whenever a strict “No Contact!” is not an option. And that is simply not an option for us mothers as long as we share custody with toxic child fathers.

How the method works in everyday life

For this method, you internalize the image of a motionless, indestructible stone on which all storms, dirt and filth bounce off in the encounter with the toxic Ex.

That means in plain language: You make yourself boring to the maximum and offer him nothing from you on which he can pounce and feed himself – as a well-groomed energy vampire.

You close the gates to ad hoc communication, meaning you no longer allow him to reach you via Whatsapp or other messenger chats.

When writing an email, refer to facts that can’t be fiddled with, such as exact times (“Parent-teacher conference is on so-and-so at 7 p.m.”).

You don’t tell or write anything private about yourself. Not even the slightest detail.

Keep a low profile about your new lifestyle or special purchases. Your child will tell if the new thing has a big impact on your home – but if you keep it emphatically under the radar in your home, your child is more likely to forget to tell dad about it the next time you see him.

Remember: You don’t really want to arouse the envy of your toxic Ex, even if it’s still so appealing to mean to him what you have achieved since your separation!

Narcissists have to be above everything and everyone, it is unbearable for them should their Ex-wives overtake them and be subjectively more successful than they are.

You don’t talk or write about the past to deprive him of the opportunity to approach you again.

If he faces you with hatred or anger, either look through him or fixate on a point on the wall behind him.

Make yourself boring to the max in the face-to-face encounter. “Hmmm.” “Oh, I see.” “Let’s see.” “I’ll think about that.” are wonderful Gray Rock responses.

Otherwise, try as much as possible to simply answer with a monosyllabic yes or no.

If you meet him at a child’s event, do not ask him any questions, if possible, in order to initiate a conversation with an uncertain outcome. You answer his questions as described above, but you show no interest in having a conversation with him.

Smile noncommittally. Yes, I might almost say: adopt a professional attitude towards your Ex. Just like you have to learn how to deal with difficult customers on the job – you can’t show your true feelings there either.

Anyway, your goal should be to make a conversation with you uninteresting and boring.

Emotions must absolutely stay outside – think of the energy cycle that the toxic Ex would like to keep alive!

Reproaches, drama, even tears and despair are welcome reactions for him – just don’t indulge him in them anymore.

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When to be careful with the Gray Rock Method

This is always the case when you have to fight in court for custody or the right to determine place of residence for your child, and you are currently being examined through an outsider’s lens.

Be careful not to give fodder to the common fathers’ lobby arguments (keyword: attachment intolerance) of the opposing side.

You absolutely must prove that you are a cooperative parent during an ongoing proceeding.

You apply the Gray Rock Method in the case best mainly in the personal meeting with the ex in the private environment, as described above. You may protect yourself!

Of course, you do not mention that you are using the Grauer Stein Method – not to any judge, expert, guardian ad litem or youth welfare office employee. Word!

On the other hand, you should consider softening the method where written communication is concerned.

Example: You write emails on your own initiative to document certain facts if you want to prove a certain narcissistic pattern, e.g. manipulation of the child.

So if your 6-year-old child comes home after a weekend of contact and reports that daddy told him that you are much too strict and that he has much more freedom with him, then a corresponding email would be quite advisable:

“Hello Bernd, Lukas told me today that you are supposed to have told him that I am too strict with him and that he has more freedom with you. I would like to ask you, in the spirit of positive parenting, not to make such statements in the future, so that the child is not confused and gets into a conflict of loyalties. Regards, Maria” 

Your advantage: In this way, you collect written evidence of your cooperation and communication skills and, in this example, also evidence of his attempts to manipulate the child. This can be enormously important later on in order to uncover certain narcissistic patterns.

If, on the other hand, all negotiations have already taken place and you “only” have to deal with the toxic Ex in everyday life, I would also save myself these emails. Think about what is right for you in each individual case.

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


Be sure to keep the following in mind when communicating:

  • Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve with this email?
  • Limit yourself purely to the facts.
  • Of course: No emotions!
  • Make sure that you do not justify yourself.
  • Read it again before you send it: Is it really impossible for an outsider to infer that you want to incite the conflict? Have you made sure that there are no attacks on your part? Is the email without scorn, sarcasm and irony?

Please always keep in mind that you prove yourself to be the mentally healthy parent in every (!) written communication.


So we better talk about different shades of gray that you should apply, depending on which phase you are in.

You can remember it very easily:

You don’t have any proceedings going on at the moment – then you apply the Gray Rock Method to the fullest extent and only write the absolute must-do emails in the context of shared custody on the issues you need to clarify. You make personal contacts as boring as possible so that he loses interest in them.

Insofar as you are facing or in the middle of legal proceedings, you take a more differentiated approach. You best use the Gray Rock Method mainly in face-to-face encounters for your protection, but write emails about it as you see fit for your documentation.

What experiences have you had with the Gray Rock Method? Please leave a comment below and share it with the other moms. Thanks a lot!

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