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Parenting A to Z: Mom and Dad's Guide to Everything from Conception to College

Parenting A to Z: Mom and Dad's Guide to Everything from Conception to College

by David M. Brownstone, Irene M. Franck

A unique and indispensible encyclopedia and sourcebook that provides parents with instant access to vital information on more than 2,000 topics concerning their children's health and well-being.

Parenting A to Z is the only single volume to offer such a range of essential information and insight on every aspect of a child's physical, emotional, and


A unique and indispensible encyclopedia and sourcebook that provides parents with instant access to vital information on more than 2,000 topics concerning their children's health and well-being.

Parenting A to Z is the only single volume to offer such a range of essential information and insight on every aspect of a child's physical, emotional, and social development. An invaluable reference, the book contains entries on more than 2,000 subjects including such major parenting concerns as genetic counseling, educational and medical testing, drug and alcohol abuse, child care, social services, and family law, and the entire range of potentially serious medical problems; as well as the less serious but equally important subjects of sibling rivalry, toilet training, and diet. Each entry provides a thorough definition of its topic and includes a list of helping organizations (where appropriate), additional sources of information, and reading lists. In addition, the book includes a Special Help section that provides parents with information on hotlines, helplines, guides to children's reading, and sources of help for special children.

Originally published as The Parent's Desk Reference , this totally revised and updated edition puts at parents' fingertips all the information they need to understand their child's health and development, from the moment of conception to early adulthood.

Editorial Reviews

A new edition of the parenting guide originally published in 1991 as "The Parent's Desk Reference" accessing information about children's and parent's lives from conception to college. 2,000 entries cover topics related to a child's physical, emotional, and social development, addressing major questions and concerns in a wide variety of areas from childbirth, nutrition, and infant care to family law, drug abuse, and selecting schools. The volume also supplies bibliographies of resources, organizations, hotlines, and a "special help" section containing useful charts and checklists. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Chapter One

abandonment, in relation to family rights and responsibilities, leaving behind someone with whom one has legal rights and ties, and expressing no intention of returning.

A parent can be charged with abandonment if a child is deserted or if the parent leaves the child for too long a time without effective supervision and providing for basic needs. The age of the child, the nature of the supervision (or lack of it), and the length of the unsupervised period all affect legal judgment as to whether abandonment has occurred, and state laws vary on these matters. But if a parent is found to have abandoned a child, the child might be placed in foster care and a lawsuit may be brought to terminate parents' rights; in the absence of another parent, the child could then be placed for adoption without parental permission. Courts vary in their handling of such questions. Traditionally, many have followed the "flicker of interest" rule of not terminating parents' rights when a parent has shown even the smallest degree of interest in the child's welfare. Others, especially more recently, have judged that a parent who has demonstrated a desire to be rid of all parental obligations has effectively abandoned the child.

Abandonment proceedings are sometimes initiated by stepparents or foster parents who wish to adopt a child, but cannot locate the biological parents to obtain legal permission. If a child, especially an infant, is physically abandoned, for instance on a doorstep or in a garbage can, the parent can be liable to criminal prosecution. In history, such abandonment was a common form of infanticide and still is in some cultures,especially when the child has disabilities, parentage is disputed, or the child is female. Sometimes, however, such abandonment can be an attempt to make better provision for the child than the parent could do, such as when a parent leaves the child at a hospital or an orphanage.

One marriage partner leaving the other may also be called abandonment or desertion, traditionally one of the grounds for divorce. Abandonment is said to have occurred when it is voluntary (that is, not provoked by the deserted spouse), when arrangements have not been made for a separation, when attempts at reconciliation have failed, and when the couple has actually parted (they no longer have sexual relations if living apart, for example). Traditionally, whatever her ties to her original home, a woman who failed to relocate with her husband to a new home might be charged with abandonment, though the husband was obliged to provide her with sufficient time and resources to make the move. In more recent years, such rulings have been challenged as sexually discriminatory, and women have been seeking--with some success--equal rights under the law.

Where more liberalized "no-fault" divorce laws prevail, questions of abandonment are no longer vital in divorce proceedings, but they can still have significant implications for parents. A parent who has left children with the remaining parent may lose custody, as well as possible alimony or child support that might be arranged in a separation agreement. In addition, the spouse who leaves may lose rights to a partner's pension or insurance, or the right to contest a will or act as administrator. Married or not, a parent seeking to leave a parenting partner will want to seek advice from a legal professional who specializes in marital and family law, to ensure that parenting and financial rights are protected.

ABC Inventory, a type of individually administered readiness test used in assessing the general maturity and school readiness of preschoolers, ages 31Ž2 to 61Ž2. In the test's four different types of tasks, the child is asked to draw a man (as in the Good enough-Harris Drawing Test), answer language questions such as "What has wings?", answer thought questions such as "What is ice when it melts?", and perform motor tasks, such as folding paper, copying a figure, or counting items. Results are scored according to the test manual. Schools often use the ABC Inventory for class placement. It may also be used as a kind of developmental screening test, to identify children with learning problems, who may require further evaluation and services. (See tests.)

ability test, a type of test designed to measure performance of a particular skill or skills, such as a typing test; also an alternate term for intelligence test. (See tests.)

abortion, the termination of a pregnancy, whether involuntarily or deliberately. Many abortions occur naturally, often because of genetic defects in the embryo that are incompatible with life; medically these are called spontaneous abortions or miscarriages. At least 10 percent, and perhaps more like 30 percent, of all pregnancies are thought to end in spontaneous abortions, often before the woman realizes she is pregnant.

It is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy--elective or induced abortion, which people opposed to abortion often call feticide or infanticide--about which controversy rages. Long illegal (and still so in many parts of the world), abortions, for centuries, were performed in back alleys and other nonsterile settings, often by ill-trained practitioners or by the women themselves, using toxic substances or dangerous tools such as knitting needles and coat hangers. Even under the best circumstances, in hospitals or hospital-like settings, women having abortions have always faced the risk of life-threatening hemorrhages or infections. But the health risks have been magnified in back-alley settings, and those who most often faced those risks have been women too poor to travel to places where abortions were performed legally and relatively safely. Images of women dead or terribly damaged by abortions gone wrong and recognition of the unequal burden placed on poor women have led many countries to liberalize their laws regarding abortions.

In the United States the law changed in 1973, when, in the case of Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court ruling allowed for unrestricted abortion in the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy. The ruling also provided for state regulation of abortion in the second trimester and state regulation or prohibition of abortion in the third trimester, except when the mother's life or health are threatened (a so-called therapeutic abortion). After Roe v. Wade, abortions became legal and widely available for the first time in the United States, sought by teenagers, single women, and married women for a wide variety of personal, social, and economic reasons. Since 1973, millions of abortions have been carried out, many at women's clinics, which offer both abortions and birth control advice.

However, many people oppose abortions, seeing them as the murder of living beings--tiny, generally (until late in pregnancy) incapable of independent life, but recognizably human forms. They often argue that life begins at conception and that the right of the fetus to life takes precedence over the mother's right to choose whether or not to bear a child. Their protests have placed great pressure on clinics offering abortions, even leading to violence--including murder--against abortion-providers. Some who oppose abortions have also set up dummy clinics, ostensibly to offer abortions, but in fact to induce women to continue their pregnancies. In some cases these clinics use coercion, though others provide counseling, support, and help in placing a baby for adoption.

Various federal and state laws have limited the use of public funds for abortion, and in recent years, the Supreme Court, while reaffirming the legality of abortion stated in Roe v. Wade, has allowed more restrictions to be placed by states, as long as they do not place what the court would consider an "undue burden." In some states, a teenage girl can only have an abortion if she obtains consent from a parent, though the Supreme Court ruled that an alternative, such as obtaining consent from a judge, must be provided. Some other states require that a woman be given a presentation about fetal development and the details of the abortion procedure, and then wait for twenty-four hours before being able to have an abortion.

All of these factors have limited practical access to abortions, especially to poor, adolescent women in rural areas, where the nearest clinic might be hundreds of miles away, and have put pressure on the concept of abortion on demand. Though few individuals would ever describe themselves as "pro-abortion," many people are active in the "pro-choice" movement, seeking to secure the woman's right to choose and wider dissemination of birth control alternatives to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Some women, fearing they will lose the right to legal abortion, have even formed self-help groups to perform abortions on each other, though many regard the "homemade" methods as hazardous because they have not been tested for safety and efficacy and could damage a woman's reproductive system. These "self-help" abortions are also risky because the women who perform them are not trained to handle medical complications. Some women, especially teenage girls, faced with seemingly insuperable obstacles, have again turned to self-induced or back-alley abortions. A delayed abortion can cause an increased financial burden; an early abortion in a clinic is less expensive, but a late abortion legally can be provided only in a hospital.

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