Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Courts must work toward a shared parenting norm

Recently, I got an interesting press release from the National Parents Organization, which said the organization believes “... that a powerful measure to reduce the number of mass shootings is going unexplored.”

That sentence caught my attention and I read on: According to the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, “The most reliable indicator of violent crime in a community is the proportion of fatherless families. Fatherless families, in turn, are caused in part by family courts that exclude fathers from post-divorce parenting. By instituting shared parenting after divorce or separation, fathers would be allowed to continue to show their sons the right way to grow into manhood.”

It has always baffled me that the bulk of the parenting seems to be placed on the mother whenever there is a divorce or separation. Many women who go through this trying time, must raise their children with a cut in income and/or a change in their lifestyle. Many, who had never worked outside the home, find themselves in the job market when often their only skills have been as stay-at-home moms. It is a rude awakening when this happens to a family — especially where there are male children involved.

In the release, Dr. Ned Holstein, founder and board chair of National Parents Organization said: “Unfortunately, however, our nation’s family courts prevent millions of divorced and separated fathers from having meaningful relationships with their children, which only leave their children more vulnerable to this unfortunate behavior.”

“The repeat narrative is deeply troubling,” Holstein said. “An individual who grew up without the love and support of both parents turns to unfathomable, deadly gun violence. This must stop, and one piece of the solution is to ensure children have both parents intimately involved in their lives after separation or divorce... With this in mind, I urge legislators in all states to join the family court reform movement to make shared parenting the new status quo in our society, if both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.”

Well, now. I agree to most of what Holstein has to say about this serious matter. But not all boys who grew up without the love and support of both parents turn to “unfathomable deadly gun violence.” I know of one who grew up in a fatherless home, and became the president of the United States.

Still, as a single mom who raised two sons, I know how frustrating it can be for a mom who must work outside the home and still is expected to instill all the positive male values in her son or sons. It is a hard hill to climb. It is hard to know who to trust with your children. In my case, I turned to the pastor and other godly men at my church to help me with the upbringing of my sons. It was a blessing to me as well as to my sons. I realize, though, that this isn’t the case with a lot of women. It is hard to know who to trust with your children.

While it is true our family courts must do more to move toward shared parenting whenever there is a divorce or separation in a family, an old saying comes to my mind concerning laws to make this possible: You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. In other words, the lawmakers can make the law, but enforcing it is still something else. There is no law to make a person love his or her children. Love can’t be legislated. We simply have to trust the courts to do the right thing whenever the law is broken.

The bottom line is still this: “... Our children need both parents in their lives to thrive,” Holstein said. “For this reason, lawmakers in every state must move forward with family court reform as soon as possible.”

I spoke with Holstein, who lives in Massachusetts, by phone. He said strides are being made. Within the past year, at least 22 states — Florida included — have passed and implemented legislation supportive of shared parenting after divorce or separation whenever the parents are fit.

Five women to be honored

Congratulations to the five women who will be honored at Plaza Health Network Foundation’s Sixth Annual Women of Distinction and Caring Luncheon starting at 11 a.m. Nov. 5 at Jungle Island’s Treetop Ballroom, 1111 Jungle Island Trail.

Plaza Health Network is an award-winning network of rehabilitation and skilled nursing centers. Its 2015 honorees are:

▪ Toby Lerner Ansin, founder of Miami City Ballet, who in addition to her many awards, is also a recipient of the Arts Hero Award from the Arts and Business Council of Miami.

▪ Trish Bell, chairwoman emerita of the board of trustees of the Chapman Partnership, co-chair of the board of trustees of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and serves as a member of the steering committee of the Red Cross’ Tiffany Circle.

▪ Roberta Orlen Chaplin, an ardent supporter of Jackson Memorial Foundation, she also is a supporter of organizations to include the Roberta Orien Chaplin Digital Breast Imaging Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital and creation of the Chaplin Pediatric Emergency Room at the Holtz Children’s Hospital. She and her husband, Harvey, and their family have also established the Harvey R. Chaplin Heart and Stroke Center at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

▪ Marile Lopez, is the chief financial officer of the Jorge Luis Lopez Law Firm, which represents municipal governments and is the board chair of the Miami Children’s Health Foundation. She also is the former chair of MCH’s Diamond Ball and serves on the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Board.

▪ Dr. Ora Lea Strickland, is dean and professor at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University. She played a key role in founding the National Institute of Health’s National Institute for Nursing Research and was a founding member of the Friends of the National Institute for Nursing Research.

Tickets are $125 per person; $250 per person for patron guests; $500 per person for benefactor guests and $1,000 per person for platinum guests. Benefactor and platinum guests will receive priority and priority premium seating respectively. To register online, go to

Luncheon to honor civic worker

The “Philanthroluncheon” which benefits the Beulah A.G. Smith (BAGS) Scholarship Foundation, will also celebrate the 91st birthday of a long-time community and civic worker Eufaula Frazier.

The event will begin at 11 a.m. Nov. 7 at the ELKS Historical Business and Conference Center, 4949 NW Seventh Ave.

Individual tickets are $40 each and $400 for a table of 10. Sponsorships are available at $500, $1,000, $1,500, and $2,000 each.

Students participating in the BAGS program receive tutoring, etiquette classes, educational field trips, and college tours, while also learning the importance of volunteerism.

For more information, call Akua Scott at 305-781-9641 or Connie Johnson at 786-596-3999.

Black Women Lawyers hold celebration

The 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Epic Hotel.

The event will be hosted by Neki Mohan, news anchor for WPLG-ABC 10, and Dianne Saulney Gaines, Esq., founding president of the organization, will be the keynote speaker.

The evening will include jazz music, dining and dancing. Partial proceeds from the event will go toward funding the Gwen S. Cherry Fellowship at Legal Services of Greater Miami. The cost is $175 per person. To RSVP go to, WWW.GSCBWLA.ORG.

Women’s Chamber having reception

The Women’s Chamber of Commerce will have its 31st Annual President’s Reception at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, 2484 S. Bayshore Dr. in Coconut Grove.

The event will feature an open bar and hors d’oeuvres, live music and a DJ, networking, and WCC President Kadisha Phelps as she shares the accomplishments of 2015 and as President-Elect Janelle LaChuisa shares what the organization will do to help women grow and thrive in 2016.

Registration is $20 for WCC members and $30 for future members. The organization is offering a special membership deal: a ticket to the event and a membership cost $150, a $55 per person saving. Email for more information.

Get wild at the zoo

Get out your most comfortable running/walking shoes and join the folks who will participate in the annual 5K Miami Wild Run and Fun Walk at Zoo Miami. Registration for the event will begin at 7 a.m. and the 5K run starts at 8 a.m. The Fun Walk starts at 8:30 a.m.

Registration is $35 for adults and $15 for children ages 5 through 12. Children under 5 are admitted free.

Bonnie Rodriguez, executive director of Miami Youth For Christ said the goal of the event is to raise $150,000 to benefit the more than $5,000 at-risk youngsters in our neighborhoods. Last year the event raised $94,000 and attracted over 1,000 participants.

This year’s event will feature The Heat’s “Burnie” and Chick Filet’s “Cow.” A full breakfast will be served and will include bagels and cream cheese, coffee, doughnuts, fresh fruit and orange juice. Call 305-271-2442 for more information or visit,

YoungArts’ Outside the Box

YoungArts will present its first “Outside the Box” event of the season at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 on the YoungArts Plaza, 2100 Biscayne Blvd. The event will feature the Complexions Contemporary Ballet Troupe with Desmond Richardson performing an original work by choreographer Dwight Rhoden.

The show is a special preview of the ballet troupe’s premier at the Joyce Theater in New York. It’s free and open to the public. RSVP is recommended. Email yours to

Former UN ambassador featured

A warm and happy Diamond Jubilee to The Links, Greater Miami Chapter. In celebration of this milestone, the organization will feature the Honorable Andrew J. Young, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris, national president of The Links at a celebration luncheon to be at 1 p.m. Nov. 8 at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail.

The celebration will also include the release of “Linkages and Legacies Volume II.”

If you go, hats are desired, but not required. Tickets are $175 each. To RSVP go to,

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.