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Editorial: Congratulations, Class of 2015 parents

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ou’ve heard the speeches many times. The high school years end and another chapter of life begins. That’s why they call it commencement. Congratulations to the parents of the Class of 2015. You made it.

Parenting teenagers is one of life’s tough challenges, a dark tunnel with a light shining in the distance: graduation. Teenagers are alternately brilliant and brooding, hilarious and hare-brained. Ushering them past the pitfalls of adolescence can be an anxious journey. As Dr. Benjamin Spock said, “The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.”

Give yourself a pat on the back, parents. Just getting children to school each day is a challenge. Through the years, you made it through science projects, band concerts, teacher conferences, athletic events, prom nights and more papers and tests than you thought possible. Maybe a roller coaster is a better analogy for the teen years — lots of ups and downs for parents and children alike.

If your young graduate is heading to college, one weight has been lifted from your shoulders — concern about getting into the college of your child’s choice — only to be replaced by another. Tuition and living expenses can be steep, but consider it an investment. You are far from  alone. Of the  2.9 million young people who graduated from high school last year, the Labor Department says, 68.4 percent enrolled in college within months.

Some people question the value of a college education, but a degree will give your child an edge in the workplace. The median weekly wage for holders of a bachelor’s degree in 2014 was $1,101 — 65 percent higher than the $668 weekly median wage high-school graduates earned, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If college is not going to happen for your child this year, remember that the diploma he receives next Saturday is still a good start. High school graduates make almost 40 percent more a week than their peers who dropped out, according to the Labor Department. And they can pursue other opportunities — the military, trades, apprenticeships and more — to increase their earning power.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” Frederick Douglass said. Rest assured, parents. Seeing your teens graduate is a deservedly proud moment. You have built them strong and steady by making sure they got an education and are prepared to build on that foundation. Applaud loud and long when they get their diplomas. And know they could not have done it without you.

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