For me, parenthood didn't really begin until my son, Robbie, reached three and a half. The reason being, was that up until that age, whenever he needed to be fed, whenever he needed to be dressed, whenever he needed any sort of attention, then I would yell out to my wife and say "Wanathip, look after your son will you, I'm watchin' TV!" Anyway, when Robbie was about three and a half, my wife came up to me one day and said " Ian, it's time you learn about parenthood." I said "whatdya mean?" She said " I'm leavin'! " So with a three and a half year old son, I became a single father all set to experience the 'joys of parenthood'.

The first thing that I wish to make clear, if it isn't already, is that I have been far from the perfect parent. Although I have tried my best, there have been many times where I have let my son down, where I haven't been there for him, where I haven't taken the time to really listen to him, where I haven't given him the direction that he needs, and where I have ignored his cries because of my insensitive nature. But there was one area that I was determined not to let him down in, one area of importance that I personally placed above all else - his physical health.

You see, when Robbie was one year old (1985), he was hospitalised with severe eczema which occurred shortly after his first and only vaccinations. He was treated in hospital with corticosteroid creams and bandaged head to toe so that the only visible part of him was his eyes, nose and mouth. (see photo of Robbie) As I mentioned in my book, Health The Only Immunity, life has a way of slapping you in the face in order to teach you something.

Seeing my son in this condition was the slap in the face I needed for it brought home to me the fact that you cannot take your children's health for granted. Having suffered numerous illnesses myself as a child including asthma, the last thing I wanted was a sick kid. I mean who wants sick kids, it's bad enough when they're healthy!

Now at that point in time, I had been studying for a couple of years, a science of health known as Natural Health, also known as Natural Hygiene or Nature Cure. In a nutshell, Natural Health explains how to ensure optimum health in yourself and your children, and how to prevent or treat illness without vaccines or drugs. One of the most inspiring stories that I came across in the Natural Health archives was that of the Hopewood children. These children were raised in accordance with Natural Health principles and were regarded by many doctors and health specialists as being the healthiest children in Australia, despite the fact that they were never given vaccines or any medical drugs.

The main problem that I had with Natural Health, was not in understanding or believing its teachings, for mostly, they are just pure logic and common sense. The problem, was in trying to follow the natural health way of life, a way of life that promotes a predominantly vegetarian diet, the drinking of pure unfluoridated water, the daily habit of exercise and deep breathing, the constant need for fresh air and sunshine, and the regular practice of physical and mental relaxation. I mean when your whole life is about steak and eggs, drinkin' beer and watchin' TV, the changeover to the natural health lifestyle can be a little hard - you know what I'm sayin'?

However, as my son's health was of paramount importance to me, not to mention my own, I gradually took on the natural health diet and lifestyle for I realised that if I didn't live it myself, how could I expect my son to. It was far from smooth sailing and over the years there were many occasions when I thought "f… this!" and started partying out on beer, pizza and anything else that took my fancy. Problem was that whenever I started partying out, then so too would my son, and it would only be a few days before he'd start coughing and spluttering and becoming feverish. Whenever this happened I'd immediately get both of us back on to a diet of fruit and salad and within a couple of days he'd be fine.

On the few occasions when he developed a full on fever, I would put him to bed and allow the fever to run its course. For the duration of the fever, he would eat nothing and drink only pure water. The fever would generally last about 2 - 3 days and when it subsided and his hunger returned, I would feed him only fruit for a couple of days and then gradually bring his diet back to normal. Our normal diet consisted mainly of fruit, salads, vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal bread. We avoided the drinking of fluoridated tap water and purchased our own pure water.

Because we both liked to junk out occasionally, we eventually decided on a 6 day plan. Sunday to Friday we played it straight keeping on a mostly vegetarian diet, then Friday night and Saturdays we partied out on whatever we felt like eg pizza, ice-cream, chocolate bars etc, and in my case a few cold beers. For Robbie and me, this plan worked quite well over the years and he continues to follow the regime to this day.

Of course there is a lot more to health than just following a vegetarian diet, but I mention this experience for those parents who are endeavouring to establish a healthier eating program for themselves and their children. No doubt some health purists will argue that you should follow a 7 day plan of healthy eating, and from the standpoint of health, I would agree. But as I have learnt over the years, in order to preserve your peace of mind, you just have to find a balance between idealism and realism.

Aside from our diet, we both played a lot of basket-ball together and did regular morning runs along the beach so this kept him quite fit. I made sure that he spent a lot of time outdoors, for nourishment is obtained not only from food but also from the fresh air and sunshine. I cannot emphasise this enough, particularly in this country (Australia), where health authorities would have you believe that the sun is bad for you. At my son's school, children were not allowed in the playground for the morning break (about 20 mins) without a bloody hat! Regular exposure to sunshine is essential for good health. - Sunbathing for Health

My son Robbie is now 17. Since the day he left hospital 16 years ago he has never since been to a doctor and has never taken any medical drugs whatsoever. In 16 years his only medicines have been food, pure water, fresh air, sunshine, rest and most important of all, lots of laughter! He has never suffered from asthma or any of the other illnesses that plagued my own childhood.

Regarding his dental health, his only visit to a dentist was for a check-up when he was 15 and the dentist remarked that Robbies teeth were in excellent condition and needed no fillings. By the time I reached 15, half my back teeth contained mercury fillings.

I end this account with the following true story. When Robbie was 14 years old, he came home from school one day all excited about wanting to compete in and hopefully win an upcoming school cross-country race. Now at that point in time he had never done any long distance running so I didn't like his chances of winning, however I kept these doubts to myself.

Well the night before the race I gave him the following tactics. I said to him, "when the gun goes off for the race, try to stay within ten yards of the leader, and then, when you get to the last 200 yards of the race, if you got the energy, take him then!" So he said "yeah okay dad."

So the next morning, he lines up with 40 other kids, the gun explodes and off they race. In the early part of the race, Robbie was about 30 yards behind the leader who sprinted off, but by the end of the first of three laps around a hill, he'd caught up to within 10 yards of the leader. Coming up to the last 200 yards of the race, he was still 10 yards behind the leader, and then, aided by some frantic screams from his old man, he took off, passed the leader and went on to win the race by 50 yards!

Now for me, that moment was very special for when I was a kid I couldn't run 300 yards without getting an asthma attack! To see my son win this long distance race without having ever done any long distance training was testimony to the wonderful benefits that Natural Health offers.

Well to finish the story off, after the race he trudges over to me with drooped shoulders and a rather dejected look on his face. Naturally I was shocked cause I expected him to be jumping with excitement, so I said to him " what's wrong mate?.. you just won the race by 50 yards!" To which he replied " 50 yards!.. if you hadn't told me to stay 10 yards behind the leader until the last 200 yards, I could've beaten him by a mile!"

"Robbie celebrating his win"


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