by Ken R. Canfield, Ph.D.

I talk with many grandparents whose eyes are opened to the incredible potential of their role in the lives of their grandchildren. Sometimes these grandparents will contact me or talk with me weeks or months later and say with great excitement, “We’ve decided to move closer to the grandkids!”

For many, that’s a positive step. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, grandparenting involves a complicated set of relationships, and they aren’t always easy to navigate.

When compared to being a parent, grandparenting usually means more distance from your grandkids. Unless you’re raising them or living with them, you probably don’t see or interact with them every day, and this contributes to some of the “magic” of the relationship. After not seeing or talking to them for several weeks or months, those hugs or phone calls are priceless.

And even if you are moving closer, living ten or twenty minutes away from them might work out better than living next door. The parents (and even the grandkids) appreciate that room to breathe and live their own lives, even when the relationships are solid and there are no major issues or conflicts.  

So, if you already live close to your grandkids, keep all this in mind. Maybe have occasional conversations with the parents about how the arrangement is working for them and what adjustments they might want to make. They’ll be glad to hear that you’re thinking about how it affects them to have you nearby.

And if you’re thinking about relocating so you can be closer, that’s probably a good thing. But take all this into consideration. Give it a lot of thought and prayer and get counsel from wise people whom you trust and who know you well—including some experienced grandparents who have worked through similar decisions. And have a blunt conversation or two with the parents.

There are good reasons to move closer to the grandkids, but sometimes there are equally good reasons not to. Every situation is unique, and there are many factors to consider.

If you decide not to make this drastic change, don’t feel bad. You can continue finding ways to connect with your grands with the opportunities you have.

Have you been through a similar decision? What other factors did I fail to mention? Please share your ideas and help other grandparents on our Facebook page.