• Christine Roslund, MFT, CPC

How to Show Up as Your Best Self When Dropping Off Your College Freshman


Are you in a state of disbelief because you are about to launch your child away to college for the first time? If so, you are not alone. Most parents experience this before they launch their adolescent into independence for the first time. Many wonder what it’s going to be like in the actual moment of having to say good-bye, too. It is important to remember that whether you are falling apart inside, not having a strong reaction, or actually feeling a sense of relief, to know all of these feelings are valid, normal, and okay. Showing up as your best self on this day is very important for your child who needs you to be strong, not only for them, but for yourself. This will set the tone for both of your new adventures – their starting their independence and your beginning your empty nest.

Even though you can never be fully prepared for how you are going to be feeling on this day, there are a few ways you can prepare yourself for what’s to come. By preparing yourself, you can help both yourself and your young adult. If you have a healthy attitude, this can give you extra support that will allow you to feel some sense of control. Using these positive perspectives can also help prevent any possibly embarrassing situations for your young adult who is trying to connect with their peers for the first time.

Your child actually needs you to be there for them emotionally more than ever. They are entering a brand-new environment where they will be left alone to deal with life for the first time ever on their own. They feel scared, awkward, and uncomfortable. They will most likely never tell you these feelings. It’s okay, they don’t need to. Just know that those feelings are underneath the surface. Since you are their parent, you can be a big support to them if you show up as your best self at this time. Your adolescent really needs you to be there, but just in the background, letting them lead the way. Getting them off on the right foot to their launch by having a positive departure will set the tone for how they start adjusting to their new environment.

Remembering these inner perspectives as you are dropping your child off at college will help you show up as your best self:

  1. Even though they are not going to be living with you, they are still your child and you are their parent. (And, they still need you more than ever now, just in a different way.)

  2. This is a huge accomplishment that you and your child are here at this point in time. All of the hard work has paid off. This is a great reward of your efforts. Feel how proud you are of them and yourself!

  3. Even though your relationship is changing, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to continue to be connected, enjoyable, and deeply fulfilling. Your relationship is probably going to be much more fun, relaxing, and stimulating when you do see each other if you put in a little effort to make it that way.

  4. You are going to be okay! It’s okay to have whatever feelings you have, and it’s natural because you are going through a grief process. It’s a good time to reach out and get some support for yourself if you need it, whether it be reaching out to your supportive friends or joining a support group.

  5. You are going to create a fulfilling life for yourself even if it may take a little time and effort. It is going to happen! If you want this to happen, sooner than later you may want to consider some coaching to help you figure out this next phase of your life.

You’ve done this amazing job of raising your child to this point! Now that the going is getting tough for you because they are leaving, it’s no time to pull back emotionally or relinquish your parenting responsibilities. Your college student actually needs you more than ever to know that you are on their side. They will never say this to you or may not ever admit it to themselves, but that is what is going on within them. As you are walking away from them, just remember that need so they can feel that you are actually really there for them emotionally, and that you are just shifting into your new parental role.

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#sayinggoodbye #launchingchild #droppingoffatcollege #emptynest

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