AdviceHelp Me Rhonda

How Do I Help My Daughter Balance Life, School and Tennis?

Tennis Pro

My husband and I have two children—a 14-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old daughter. The 14-year-old is a talented tennis player. She’s taken lessons since she was six and has played on a lot of teams, in a lot of tournaments, etc. We (and she) are hoping she’ll be able to play in college. There’s a team/league in Atlanta that would be the next step for her, but it would mean driving her to Atlanta three or four times a week after school. Her father and I want her to continue to play and improve, but we’re not sure how she’d balance this with her life here. She’s in her first year of high school, and we don’t want her to let her homework slide or miss opportunities to make friends and have a life here. We don’t want her to miss opportunities in tennis, either, and I’m not sure how we’d tell her that we’re denying her the chance to keep growing. 


You need to look at this issue through a wider lens. This league will create an imbalance in your family life. You mention wanting your daughter to have a life here, but you and your husband need to have a chance to have lives, too. Driving to Atlanta four times a week, waiting for practice to end, then driving home is a brutal grind. It will take up your time, money and energy otherwise spent paying attention to your 8-year-old daughter. Dedicating 16 or 20 hours of your entire family’s time each week is too much—too much for your family and, likely, too much for your teenage daughter.

Yes, this league may be the next step for your daughter, but I say the cost is too great. The way you tell her this is by telling her that she’s part of a family and, while you want what’s best for her, it can’t be at the expense of the family unit. It’s not good for her to develop the sense that your life and your husband’s life are entirely devoted to supporting her hobby. It’s also up to you, as her parents, to set some limits on what she participates in. Jumping in the car immediately after school and coming home late in the evening four times a week is too much for a 14-year-old.

You say you don’t want her to miss opportunities in tennis or in her life here. Asking for both is not reasonable. There aren’t enough hours in the day, so she (and you) will have to cut some things out. I suggest you take the Atlanta league off the table.

Underage Music Scene

Is there anywhere at night that my 14-year-old and I can listen to music? I’m 49, by the way.

Parent and Teen


Flagpole Music Editor Gabe Vodicka weighed in on this one. “It’s true that most live music in Athens is geared toward a rowdy, drinking-age crowd—it is a college town, after all—but while many shows are 21- or at least 18-and-up, there are several venues that offer all-ages shows with regularity. The Melting Point comes to mind; their Terrapin Tuesday, while owing its name to the local brew, is a family-friendly series showcasing regional folk and Americana acts. Likewise, the eclectic and frequently wonderful concerts at Hendershot’s Coffee Bar on Prince have no age restrictions. There are also plenty of seasonal events, like the summer Sunflower Concert Series, where you can catch high-profile local acts at the Botanical Garden. Finally, the 40 Watt and Georgia Theatre both offer the occasional all-ages show, so keep your eyes peeled and watch Flagpole’s calendar.”

Right Choice?

I’m in my second year at UGA. I was really excited about coming to college, but I really struggled during my first year. I came here from out of state, and I feel like a total outsider. I’ve met plenty of people that I like well enough, but none that have become close friends. I’ve tried joining different clubs and activities, and that’s helped some, but I haven’t really met anyone I’ve formed a lasting friendship with. I thought I wanted to be at a big school, and it seems like in a school of 30,000-plus people there should be someone I like, I’m just not sure how to find that person. And I’d kind of like to have more than just one good friend, but right now I’d settle for one. I’m hoping this year will be different, but so far, no dice. What am I doing wrong?



It sounds like you’re doing everything right, Lost. Sometimes it takes time and perseverance to find your place, but I know it’s lonely in the meantime. One option is to branch out and try to become a little more involved in the Athens community beyond UGA. There are a lot of great organizations and people in Athens you might enjoy. 

That’s probably not what you were anticipating when you left for college, though. You were probably excited about making new friends on campus and in class. You might consider the possibility that UGA isn’t the right place for you. UGA is great in so many ways, and so is Athens, but a big state school provides a distinct type of college experience. Maybe you’d prefer something smaller, or closer to home, or with more people in the same major as you. 

You make a decision about where to go to college when you’re a high school senior—before you have any idea what college is truly like. You can do tours and overnight visits, but they all show the same things: dining halls, freshman dorm rooms, and the newest building on campus. None of that gives you a full picture of what your life there will be like. Now that you have a year of college experience and you know what is and isn’t important to you, you’re in a position to make a much more informed decision about where you’d be happy. Think about transferring and going somewhere else for your junior and senior year. Continue to try to find your place at UGA, but consider some other schools and apply there, so you have some options in case you still feel the same way at the end of this year.

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