There’s a growing number of resources and advice available to long-distance grandparents, and rightly so. It’s a real challenge to stay connected to grandkids across the miles. The latest technology definitely helps, but it just isn’t the same.

But what about grandparents who live close to their grands?

In some ways, we get to experience the best of grandparenting. We can be available to help care for the grandkids or stay with them when the parents have appointments or take a few days away. We get to attend their events and performances, and we can set up regular one-on-one lunch dates or outings with them. We can have the whole family over for dinner or go on a picnic or whatever strikes us that would be fun.

It can make for some rewarding, satisfying grandparent time, and it’s a big reason why some grandparents decide to move closer to their grandkids. But we should also remember:

Sometimes they also need some space.

The parents and even the grandkids will likely appreciate that room to breathe and live their own lives, even when the relationships are solid. (And often that goes for us, too.)

There’s probably no magic formula here. All families and all relationships are unique in some ways. Maybe one adult child is on board with as much help and as much grandma/grandpa time as you can handle, and you’re seeing the grandkids nearly every day—and loving every minute. Maybe there’s at least one grandchild sleeping over at your house just about every weekend.

Maybe another family prefers getting together about once a week or a few times a month. You still have many opportunities to influence and bond with your grandkids, but it isn’t really part of everyday life.

For many, there’s a delicate balance to find.

It’s good to be proactive and engaged. Many times, if you don’t issue invitations and suggest activities and get-togethers, they won’t happen. And you do play a significant role in your grandkids’ lives; something valuable is missed when grandparents don’t have that regular and ongoing presence.

At the same time, while enjoying your grandkids, it’s important to be sensitive to any signs that they may need some space. More time together means more opportunities for misunderstandings, unintended hurt feelings, and an overriding tension. One thing you definitely want to avoid is a major blow-up, where your involvement as a grandparent is greatly diminished or even denied. Those adult parents are the gatekeepers for your access to your grandkids, and as sad and confusing as it may be, sometimes they close the gate!

So whatever your relationship is like, talk about it.

It doesn’t hurt to say things like, “Hey, I love spending time with you and your kids, but I also want to make sure I’m not smothering you. Is it working OK for you? Are there any adjustments you’d like to make?” Or simply tell them, “You have my permission to let me know when you need more space. I won’t be offended or hold it against you.” Talk about boundaries, whether they are already established or they need to be, and do all you can to honor those boundaries.

They’ll appreciate your sensitivity to that, and it could help maintain the kind of harmony between generations that makes your role more of a joy and allows you to maximize the time you do have with your grandkids.

Have you had these kinds of conversations with your grandkids? What advice would you add about this? Share some wisdom with other grandparents (and learn some too) on our Facebook page here.