Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Tennis Can Serve Up Good Health

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is going to be 9 years old in two months, and I would like for her to start playing tennis. I found a junior tennis program that's only $20 a year, which I think is a great price. I hope my daughter would like playing tennis, because it's a great way to stay in shape.

Do you think it's too early to introduce her to organized sports? -- Tennis Mom, West Orange, N.J.

DEAR TENNIS MOM: Boy, did you luck out! To find a tennis program at that price is unheard of. Check to make sure that it is legitimate. Ask about the structure of the program, the ages of the other children and the expectations.

As far as a 9-year-old starting tennis, that is no problem. Some children start tennis lessons at a very young age. Tiger Woods was little more than a toddler when he started, and look how far he has taken the sport. Tennis is a great sport to help keep a body in shape. It teaches many other skills as well.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend. She is really cool, but I am concerned about her. Since her breakup, she does not want to go home, and this behavior has become exhausting for me. She wants to go out all the time, and lately I have extended my train ride home because I don't want to see her depressed.

I love my friend, but she is wearing me out. What can I do to help her speed up the depression process? -- Girlfriend to the End, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR GIRLFRIEND TO THE END: Guess what? One way you can prove what a great friend you are is to draw the line.

Your friend may not be facing reality right now, which is why she wants to hang out all the time. Being at home alone can be tough right after a breakup.

You may be able to help her by saying no to the incessant outings. Tell her that you have to curb your extracurricular activities. Invite her to your home for dinner or a movie. If you are up for it, invite her to spend the night. You two can talk rather than party.

If she is unable to shake her emotional distress on her own, suggest that she get counseling. Many people go for short-term emotional support after breaking up with a partner. She can learn tools that will help her cope with what happened and examine what her role in the breakup might have been. Does she have any idea of what she may be able to do differently in her next relationship? It would be wonderful for her to process this with support so she can be mentally healthy when the next beau comes around.