Exclusive! 10 minutes chat with TV Doctor Dr Ranj Singh on bringing up boys
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- Published on Friday, 12 March 2021 11:08
- Last Updated on 11 March 2021
- Monica Costa
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I recently interviewed the nation’s favourite doctor, Dr Ranj, to discuss how parents can help teenage boys grow up happy, healthy and confident. Dr Ranj Singh is a real doctor but he’s also a medical expert on prime-time slots on ITV’s This Morning and CBeebies’ series Get Well Soon. I met him in person a few years ago at a private gig by Collabro and always hoped to have a proper chat.
I love your book How to Grow Up (and Feel Amazing!): The No Worries Guide for Boys. I live with a hormonal male teenager and this is the perfect book to leave in his bedroom hoping to fill the gaps left by my education particularly sex education.
I completely understand how some conversations are tricky for parents and carers. I’ve tried to make things a bit easier for you! It’s so important to encourage children to talk but there are always going to be gaps in those conversations so if my book helps fill those gaps then I’m delighted.
We’ve all been teenagers but now that we are parents we struggle to understand them. In the book you help boys understand the world around them and their changing bodies. How can parents cope with hormonal teenagers and their ups and downs? It’s a very difficult time for us mums and dads out there and we would need one of your manuals too.
Ha, maybe a complete guide for parents needs to be on my list to write! I wrote this book to educate and empower any young person that picks it up. I want it to be the companion that you can turn to for reassurance about anything that is happening in your life, and that helps you learn how to deal with it. It’s like a non-judgemental friend who can allay your fears and advise you on how to make things better. I want the reader to feel happier, more hopeful and inspired to dream and be better. I make a specific point of echoing my own life mantra in it: dream big, work hard and be kind. Those are words I have lived my own life by and they have helped me immensely, so I hope others will find them valuable too.
I’ve also tried to make it as relevant to as many people as possible. I don’t want anyone to feel like it doesn’t consider, understand or mention them. That’s why we talk about sexuality and identity as well as biology, puberty and everything else. And you’ll see from the illustrations by David O’Connell that there are people of every background, body shape and culture in there. This book is for everyone.
My advice to parents is that they too should read the book. As adults we can forget what it feels like to be a young teen and we need to try and throw ourselves back to the feelings we experienced. That’s easier said than done though and the best advice I can give any parent is to create an atmosphere where your children can talk if they need to. Try and answer their questions and above all else, support them. Growing up is such a confusing time for young people and even more so at the moment when they are unable to do “normal” things like seeing their friends at school.
During childhood parents go through ups and downs. While very young children are very attached to them but then as soon as they reach the age of 13, they don’t want their parents anymore. And mums and dads are suddenly devastated by this. What would you recommend parents to do to learn how to bond with their teenagers in this phase of their development?
It’s so important we do our best to understand our children and the easiest way to do this is to talk and spend time together. I know that’s easier said than done sometimes but a chat over your evening meal, watching a film together and taking an interest in what your child is doing can make all the difference. It’s also important to remember that your chid is developing into an adult and you need to respect their personal space. It’s only natural that you want to know what they are up to all the time, but you have to remember they are growing up and need time on their own just like you do.
You are such a great role model for children out there for so many reasons. How were your teenage years?
I’m quite honest about my growing up in the book – about the highs and the lows. It wasn’t always easy, and I wish I had a resource like this to turn to when I felt like no-one understood what I was feeling.
There is nothing in this book that I haven’t either gone through myself or dealt with in my professional career, so in that sense it’s all first-hand and coming straight from the horse’s mouth! I want the reader to feel like they can trust me and the information I’m giving them. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it or felt it. I’ve come through it. And I’m here to help you do the same.
Authenticity was really important to me. That means you’ll also hear about my own experiences and struggles growing up: my mental health challenges, how I discovered and accepted my sexuality, the ups and down of my relationships with my brothers, my struggles with my weight and self-confidence, and also how I got better at studying and learning to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums