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Style: Roseville Granite Bay Rocklin

Golden Sierra Life Skills

10/04/2017 01:22PM ● By Style

The Daniel family: Bryan (top) with Zahryan and Rylie

Tom Grayson

Tom Grayson wants a few good men. In turn, he promises to change their lives. Grayson is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Golden Sierra Life Skills, an Auburn-based organization that helps men learn parenting and co-parenting skills and anger management. Its lyric goal? Fix the broken heart of a man so he can fix the broken heart of his family.

Grayson established Golden Sierra to educate new fathers who need help relating to their parenting role. The term “new fathers” is a big bucket—from dads of newborns and fathers in new blended families, to grandparents raising grandkids and dads who need a refresher for a child born after a gap. “There are many parenting classes for women,” Grayson says. “We basically offer the other side of the coin.” 

What Grayson terms “broken heart” is the emptiness felt by men who never had a father or father figure in their lives. When these men are called to step up as dads, they must work through their neglect issues at the same time they’re learning to parent. “But they’re good men,” Grayson emphasizes.

Golden Sierra’s core program is its 10-week “Men, Infants and Children” class, or MIC. The series of weekly discussions begins by regressing the fathers to their childhoods to discover and address the roots of their own parenting styles. “We ask what it’s like to be a real man, then ask what it’s like to be a father,” Grayson says. “Usually the two lists don’t match.” With their lists, the men understand what they need to work on. The full course covers a long list of topics, including positive discipline, child health and safety, conflict resolution, parenting skills, domestic violence, communication skills, brain development and more. The program has been so successful that the men who complete it—nearly 3,000 to date—often come back to help facilitate later classes. The full course costs $250. “We want the dads to pay something,” Grayson says, “but “we don’t turn anybody away.”

Golden Sierra also offers a 10-week “Anger Management” class and a “Male Involvement/Male Ambassador” program to help fathers participate in their child’s education, particularly in STEM fields. For divorced couples, the center holds co-parenting classes that the men progress to after the MIC program. “Often the mother didn’t have a father figure, either,” Grayson says, “and she has no idea how a father should behave, [which] leads to toxic parenting.” This class ensures they become a team.

Grayson, who has worked in the life skills field for 16 years, also consults on fatherhood issues and speaks widely about the topic. He’s even helped start similar programs across the country and received the 2013 Friends of Head Start Award for his “innovative quality programming.” Golden Sierra—which receives no funding and relies entirely on donations and fees—holds classes in Auburn and Roseville in both English and Spanish.

By Linda Holderness // Photos by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group

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