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Alison Chapman

Five months into her pregnancy, 26-year-old Alison Chapman saw a woman breastfeeding for the very first time at The Greenhouse Cafe in Denton while she was soaking up parenting knowledge and searching for answers about how to raise her future son with five other moms and moms-to-be. They quickly earned the nickname “The Baby Ladies,” a title that stuck when Chapman turned their informal lunch dates into a close-knit, informative Facebook group meant to build community.
 
Now, almost three years and 370 women later, Chapman is a catalyst for changing the parenting conversation in Denton, “hitting on” local moms in grocery stores and educating anyone who will listen. Her mission is to make sure every woman knows her parenting options and chooses the best for her and her baby. Chapman's particular brand of mothering falls under attachment, or gentle, parenting. Both terms encompass respecting a child's needs and being supportive of the child.
 
“It takes attachment theory and funnels it down into realistic ways to parent,” Chapman says. “It takes this academic approach and turns it into reality. In our group, we use gentle or peaceful parenting, because it gets the point across a little bit more to people who don’t have a lot of experience with attachment theory.”
 
While those tenets seem logical to her, Chapman argues that modern Western parenting advocates differently. It wasn't until Chapman and her husband Keith decided to have a baby that they realized their upbringings were vastly different, and they would have to find middle ground. Starting from scratch, they researched every parenting style they knew.
 
Chapman grew up between two homes – her mother in the city of Hurst and her father a few miles out on a ranch. Happy in both places, she recognized her mom's passion for maintaining a kind relationship with her children even while she faced the struggles of a single parent. Chapman drew from this experience, as well as her dad's natural, down-to-earth style, when considering parenting options.
 
For the first year, Alison and Keith worked separate shifts – her during the day, him at night – so at least one parent could be home with now 2-year-old Henry. This eventually became a strain on their relationship, so the couple sent Henry to a local Montessori school that mirrors what they value in parenting.
 
“It's a perfect substitute for attachment parenting, but I still miss Henry during the day,” Chapman says. “And he loves his caretaker, but he also knows who is Mom is. I love that Keith and I have a healthy relationship, and I still get to spend every waking moment with my son on the weekends.”
 
As Alison continues her work as alumni coordinator for The Academy of Math and Science at the University of North Texas, she is also working on a degree in women's studies to expand what The Baby Ladies has given her and other women.

Read more about The Baby Ladies and attachment parenting.
 
Published August 2013