I was skimming through YouTube and I randomly stumbled on Samora’s video where she spoke about her relationship with her father and how it affected her academics (Directions to the video provided in the link below). I also had such struggle back in my senior year in high school, although not as intense, so I could totally understand the gravity of what she was speaking about. I know many people struggle with a situation quite similar to this, so I really hope this blesses them. By the way, I need to emphasize that Mrs. Samora Charles is such a humble sweetheart; she made the process of this interview extremely easy, even with her tight schedule, and I’m extremely grateful for that. Enjoyyyy!
1. Hello Samora! I’m so glad you have decided to share your story with us. Kindly give us a bit of background about yourself –also include your likes/loves, dislikes, liked-dislikes, and disliked-likes.
Hi, I’m Samora Charles, a proud New Yorker, big sister (eldest of 4), wife, restaurant owner, physician assistant student, fitness fanatic, and overall lover of life and all things positive. Medicine has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. The human body and all its inner workings are fascinating to me, truly the work of a Creator. I am honored to be able to learn the gift of healing the sick and cannot wait until I graduate with a Master’s in Physician Assistant studies so that I can start living my dream career.
Recently, I did a YouTube video for a fellow PA (physician assistant) friend who has a channel devoted to helping pre-PA students find all the information they need about the profession and the application process. I wanted to share my story because I am what you call a non-traditional student. There are many reasons why an applicant is classified as non-traditional, but in my case what it means is I was able to gain acceptance into a PA program despite having failed out of undergrad because my GPA was so low (0.9 to be exact at the time of my academic dismissal).
The reason for my poor academics is due to me being disowned by my father while I was a freshman in college. You see, my Haitian father is the typical strict immigrant parent who happens to also be a devout no-nonsense SeventhDay Adventist. He and my mother ran a tight ship at home and expected my siblings and I to follow their every instruction without question. Their expectations for my siblings and I were for us to be at the top of our class and to follow God’s words “to the T.” Needless to say, I had a very restricted childhood. I loved my parents dearly, but I truly believed if I wanted to be a well-rounded individual, I would have to leave the confines of their home. So, when it came time to apply to college, I submitted applications to all out-of-state universities that I could live on campus. Long story short, after learning of my plans, my father forbade me to do any such thing. I held my ground, followed through, and because of this, my parents chose not to speak to me or even acknowledge my existence. They also forbade my siblings to talk with me. This deeply affected me and my performance in school, which ultimately led to my dismissal.
I worked hard to correct the mistakes of my past and I am proud to say that my efforts have paid off. I also reconciled with my parents a few years ago though our relationship will never be the same. I think they feared that I would get caught up in the secular world of drinking, drugs, sex, etc. once I left their strict home. But now they realize that their fears were unwarranted as I have succeeded in completing my education despite all the setbacks and hardships.
Some other things/ fun facts you should know about me are, I am an avid runner and my dream is to run the top 7 world marathons (I’ve done 3 half-marathons so far). I love to laugh, travel, read/write, adventures, and ethnic foods of all cultures. I have one major dislike and that is people who exude negativity.
2. What would you describe as “ideal fatherhood” according to God’s word and the things you wished you had?
This is a tough question…despite all that I’ve been through with my parents, more specifically with my father, I do not think he was a bad parent. Some may disagree, but I believe I’ve reached a place of understanding and forgiveness. I’m married now, and my husband and I talk a lot about the way we want to parent our future children. Although our parents are from entirely different cultures (mine are Haitian/Cuban, his Romanian), we both have similar upbringings. As such, we both agree that we want to do things differently than our parents did; a little less strict, a bit more understanding, and we both want to have open communication with each other and with our kids. These are all things neither one of us experienced growing up in our respective households.
God’s word says a father is supposed to love, protect, and provide for his children. He is also instructed to train his children in the “way they should go,” and “be careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 22:6, 1 Timothy 5:8, Proverbs 13:24). My father did all these things, but where he was lacking was in emotion. I knew my father loved me because he had to…right? There were very few times I felt his love through emotion and my siblings and I can count the amount of times he expressed his love for us. In fact, for most of my childhood, I feared my father and never even considered talking to him or seeking him for counsel. In my opinion, an ideal father is all the things I mentioned above, but more importantly, someone who makes sure his children never doubt the love he has for them.
3. How important will you say the role of a father is to his sons, and then to his daughters?
A son looks to his father as an example of what a man should be in all aspects of his life. A daughter’s first interaction with a man is with her father and her expectations for any future relationships will more than likely be based on this. Knowing this, I would say the role of a father is instrumental to the social development of a child. If there is any disconnect in the way a father interacts with his son or daughter, this will undoubtedly affect their personality, behavior, and character.
4. Can you describe your state of mind and life when it dawned on you that your fatherhad decided to disown you? (i.e., what did you struggle with, what thoughts crossed your mind, and how did it affect your life?)
The only way I can express my state of mind during that time of my life is to say I was depressed. I lived in a constant state of darkness, hopelessness, and sadness. My spiritual life was nonexistent, and I drew away from my friends as I was embarrassed about my situation. I was also in denial and chose to ignore my feelings and put on an outwardly appearance that everything was okay. Had I taken the time to sort through my feelings by taking a semester or two off from school, I would have spared myself the damage I did to my academic record.
5. How were you able to encourage yourself, move past the struggle and focus on your life, especially your academics? (i.e., what made you feel better, and what materials, resources, or people helped you through that stage?)
I like to think of my dismissal from school as my rock bottom. It was the worst thing to ever happen to me, but it was also a blessing in disguise. It forced me to recognize that I was not the same driven person I was when I first started college; I needed to take the time to self-reflect, regain focus, and find direction. I really took the time to form an identity because up until that point, I was a shell of who my parents told me I had to be. I regained my spirituality and connection with God during this time and associated myself with a core group of friends and church members who uplifted me. I learned how to be independent, appreciate the small things in life, and to love myself. I also did a lot of international travel and volunteer work. Witnessing the lack of healthcare resources in developing countries served as my main motivator to return to school after a four-year hiatus. I really wanted to obtain my dream of becoming a health care professional, so that I could use my skills and education to help the medically under-served both here in the States and abroad.
6. It is often believed that ladies get attracted to men that are just like their fathers. Do you think this statement is valid? If yes, how did this affect your decisions concerning relationships?
I do believe there is some truth to that statement. Before I found my independence, I dated men with a controlling nature. It was not always blatantly apparent, but looking back now, and after many discussions with my girlfriends, I realize all the subtle ways I allowed myself to be controlled. I realize that sounds very negative, but it is the truth. I believe in the traditional roles of man and woman, but I also feel that the relationship should be a partnership of sorts. Decisions should be made by both parties, and there should be a mutual respect for the feelings and thoughts of the individuals involved. My father was the head of the household in every way and my mother was a dutiful housewife who never questioned his decisions. My subconscious choice of men who shared similar characteristics to my father, had a lot to do with my lack of identity and insecurities at that time. My husband now is nothing like my father, and that was a conscious decision.
7. Based on your experience with your father, how are you able to balance your need for independence and the bible’s standard on submission in your marriage?
To submit myself to my husband, does not mean I lose my identity and independence. Independence to me is the ability to think freely and be unapologetically me without fear of repercussion or judgement. These are things I could not do growing up in my father’s household. My husband however is very respective of my opinions, desires, wishes, and free will. That is not to say I do not involve him in my decisions, to do that would not be a marriage. We are two people in love who choose to submit to each other equally.
8. What is the best/ most important thing(s) you believe a father must communicate to his children?
Love. I think that some fathers believe that love is providing a roof, food, clothes, and other necessities for their family. While that is true, these things don’t translate to children as love simply because they do not understand the sacrifices that need to be made to achieve those things. I told you earlier that my father rarely told me he loved me and showed very little emotion towards my sibling and me. We rarely spent time together outside of church, and rarely did he joke around with us. Love is a feeling and to me, it is important that children feel loved without question by both their parents.
9. What would you teach your son differently to prepare him for a fatherly role?
If I ever have a son, I want him to be a strong role model. I want to teach him to respect and honor women so that his decision for who he chooses as a wife will be a good one. After all, a happy household first starts off with two parents who not only love each other, but who also share the same core values and morals. I want to teach him that the advice of his parents is in his best interest and that he should never hesitate to come to us with his fears, hopes, and dreams. I hope that he emulates our parenting style and goes on to be the ideal father to his own children.
10. How would you describe your relationship with your father now and what steps did you take (or are you taking) to improve on it?
My father and I have a better relationship now than we did when I was younger. Although he would never admit it, I think he realizes he was wrong in his treatment towards me. We talk periodically on the phone, and I update him on the happenings of my life. He has even told me on more than one occasion that he is proud of me, which is strange for me to hear. Somewhere along the way, I stopped waiting for him to apologize to me and acknowledge he was wrong in the situation. He is a stubborn man who very rarely admits his wrongs. Holding on to those bad feelings and resentments, was a big source of negativity in my life, and I needed to get rid of that. So, I chose to forgive him and just move on. I am at peace now, and though I am still very guarded and reserved towards him, I feel like we have reached a better place now as father and daughter. We are a work in progress.
11. What are your final words for those who struggle with this but understand that they must reference their fathers regardless because it is God’s standard?
I think we should always honor and respect our parents even though we may not always agree with them. I think there is way to do that while still making decisions we feel are best for our future. A lot of times, we feel like we are being disobedient if we don’t follow our parents every instruction, but remember, they grew up in a different time period, so their experiences are much more different than ours. I think it is important for us to do our best to communicate with them honestly and openly, so that they can better understand our choices. By doing this, I think we are still following the standard God set forth for us. When all else fails, pray for counsel and direction. Even when my father was not in my life, the heavenly Father was still there to guide, love, and protect me, because his love is everlasting and knows no bounds.
If you read it through to this point, I’m really glad! I was really blessed by this and I hope you’ve been as well. Here’s the link to Samora’s interview on YouTube. As always, I really look forward to your questions, comments, and/or decisions. Remember, it all starts with YOU.
Blessings to YOU!