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UNC seeks to ground 'helicopter parents'

University orientation helps parents loosen ties with children to limit outside interference with student life on campus.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — To ease the transition to college for parents, the University of North Carolina has started included sessions for them in its annual student orientation program.

UNC officials said some parents have such a hard time letting go of their children that they show up on campus for academic advising sessions and even try to smooth out difficulties with dormitory roommates. Such interference hinders the students' transition to their new lives on campus and, in the long run, their maturation as young adults, officials said.

"We know that they are attached to you and you are attached to them, so we are going to be slowly cutting that string," UNC Dean of Students Melissa Exum told parents during an orientation session Thursday.

Hattie Brevard and Cory Calderon, whose sons will begin classes at UNC on Aug. 19, said they know it will be hard to say goodbye to them in a few weeks.

"I'll probably cry the first week," Brevard said. "(Him) being the baby, this is going to be very hard."

"I've tried not to be a 'helicopter parent,'" Calderon said, referring to parents who hover over their children.

Exum told parents to communicate with their children and to ask tough questions of them but not to show up on campus and try to solve their problems.

"(They're going to be) learning about life and how to negotiate life, and if somebody is always doing that for you, you really don't grow up," she said.

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Erin Hartness, Reporter
Pete James, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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