Gina Spence and Gibbons Company’s ‘Each One Reach One’ campaign could not have selected a more positive example of a parent to highlight and gift funds for school-wear and supplies ahead of the upcoming fall term than father of three Mark Raynor.

For while there are too often heard stories of parental absenteeism and neglect of responsibilities among males, there is no denying the unyielding commitment and leadership demonstrated by Mr. Raynor, who is co-parenting not one, not two, but three beautiful young girls without a trace of regret for his predicament, reveling in every moment he can break away from work to cater to his bright-eyed trio of eight-year-old Leydi, Markeli (five) and Salome (three).

Divorced from the girls’ Cuban mother, Mr. Raynor, who works in multiple fields, including as a medical assistant, nurse’s assistant, taxi driver, fitness trainer and currently as an environmental health worker doing Covid-19 testing of overseas arrivals, spoke of the joy he’s having teaching, nurturing, encouraging and protecting his girls.

“It is a true privilege and honour to have three children and three girls,” said Mr. Raynor, who’s two older children will next month attend Dalton E. Tucker Primary when schools resume next month. “I view them as very delicate, so I am very protective of them and my whole purpose of being a father to them is to help them develop a moral compass, so that when they become older or women they are good citizens of the community, that they make good decisions.

“And so I invest a lot of time doing that with them know so that later it becomes natural, because we can’t just take it for granted that they’ll grow up to be good people … it doesn’t come by accident. Good habits are taught and practiced and that’s why I spend so much time with them. I just try to give them a good example to look at.

“When they make mistakes, because we all make mistakes, I want to be there to guide them because what they need is leadership and as a father I take that role very seriously.”

Hailing from the Railway Trail near Somerset Bridge, Mr. Raynor comes from a famous sports family. He is the son of cricketing legend Lee Raynor Sr., and mother Virginia, and brother to former Olympic (Barcelona) swimmer Ian and Lee Jr., a solid opening batsmen in his heyday.

Mark, himself a well-sculptured fitness buff, can often be found exercising with the girls, teaching them varying techniques to prepare strengthen, formulate and equip their young bodies for whatever rigours that may come their way.

However, what the father had not anticipated was the call he received from Ms. Spence announcing him to have hit the back-to-school jackpot that would allot him a gift card each for Leydi and Markeli, and relieve much of the burden of financing school uniforms and relevant supplies.

“In the wake of the pandemic it has certainly hit many industries very hard and financially everybody’s had to pull their belts in tight,” he said. “So anytime somebody offers help like this it’s like ‘Wow!’ it’s truly a blessing.”

“When she gave me the phone call and I was told I was chosen it was ‘Wow!’ It couldn’t have come at a better time, so I’m in great gratitude.

“I’ve known about her (Ms. Spence) for many years. I’ve always admired her ethic and what she’s about, and to be singled out amongst all these people. And as popular as she is, for her to take notice of me and my girls it means a lot.”

Mr. Raynor takes not his parenting duties lightly and encouraged other fathers to likewise be attentive and firmly hold onto the reins of responsibility toward their children.

“Be a man. Be the rock for the children,” he said resolutely. “It’s not just about making children and being in the hospital shedding tears at this awestriking experience of seeing life come to fruition that looks like you that move men to tears, but then what happens after that.

“We’ve got to stick to the wicket and raise them to become adults, so invest the time and also don’t be afraid to ask for help, because with singleness comes special challenges.

“When you’re in the normal marital arrangement, where you’ve got two parents working together it’s a lot easier if everyone’s on the same page than when you’re by yourself and got multiple kids.”

He added how it was critical to not stand alone as on a deserted island, but to locate or create a network of trustworthy, upright persons that could be called on when the unexpected occurs.

“Don’t be afraid to surround yourself,” he said. “In fact I would encourage them to surround themselves with a network of positive people as a back-up plan.

“You always need a back-up plan, because things come up. Spontaneous things come up. You’ve still got to make time at work and you have to have caring, responsible people that can back you up so that you can make your time at work and still know you’re your kids are in a good place.

“So we can’t just take things for granted. Have a back-up plan and just be the rock for your kids.”

Moreover, even in situations such as his, where the parents are no longer compatible with each other he strongly advised against badmouthing the other, perhaps absent parent in order not to promote conflict and negativity among the minds of the kids, who are always absorbing information whether good or bad.

Mr. Raynor offered a frank, open response when asked if matters were well between he and the girls’ mother.

“No, actually they’re not,” he stated. “Now that’s not to throw her under the bus because we both bear responsibility, but people can learn from my journey, my mistakes and I always look to keep things positive.

“It’s always good when both parents, when you make the decision that you no longer want to be together and you still have to raise these children, to be responsible and to be reasonable, because the little ones still need the love of both parents.

“But even if one parent wants to be difficult the other parent can still make the decision to go the extra mile to make sure they can be a positive example for the children, because the children are watching. The children are like sponges. They’re seeing how both parents are behaving and you’ll find that they’ll gravitate toward the one that’s behaving how they’re supposed to behave and they’re going to pick up traits good and bad.

“So that means that I have to work hard to ensure that I demonstrate as many good traits as possible so that it can have a positive impact on them, so that they grow up to be productive women.

“So that’s a lot of work, but I’m up for the task as a single parent.

“Also one must keep hope alive. Keep hoping that one will be agreeable and just keep reminding them that ‘these are our kids’.

Thus Mr. Raynor maintains a weekly ritual whereby each girl is asked to forward examples of the “good” thing their mother does.

He explained: “One thing I do do is I ask the children, ‘What are the good things that mommy does?’ And all three of them have a list of things that they can say and every week I go over the good list that mommy does.

“Even though mommy and I don’t get along, and they see that, but they see me trying to get along. But I make sure they know all the good things about mommy, because it’s not going to help them psychologically or emotionally to throw out the negative things.

“The negative things they see on their own, but it’s not good if the parents vocalise.

“I’m human and there have been times when I’ve become frustrated and called her ion the carpet and said things I shouldn’t have, where I’ve had to stand up, be a man and apologise,

“So don’t be afraid to apologise when you falter and say something out of frustration, but learn from it.”

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