The Dangers of “Mommy Wine Culture”

The trend of wine culture among mothers has become so rooted in the collective mentality that it’s now normal to see talk about “mom juice” and quips like, “there’s not enough wine to deal with another temper tantrum” all over social media.

Let’s be clear. Women who are mothers deserve to enjoy alcohol like anyone else. The purpose of this post is not to shame women who enjoy a healthy relationship with alcohol. The purpose is to identify a cultural shift that seems to suggest that moms need alcohol in order to make it through a day with children, while also making light of it as a harmless occurrence.

It’s commonplace to see it mentioned in blog posts, TV shows, and there’s even merchandise out there celebrating the wine mom culture.

But a glass can quickly turn into two, and then a bottle for many moms, with many women never realizing the dangers of drinking wine to cope with the stress of motherhood.

Let’s have a look at the dangers of mommy wine culture and how to avoid them.

The normalization of “mommy wine culture” is dangerous

The term “wine mom” typically refers to someone who drinks regularly to take the edge off parenting. The phrase represents much more than wine enjoyment as a parent. It has come to represent a troublesome trend in modern parenting.

Mothers who enjoyed a glass of wine after the kids went to bed existed long before the advent of mommy blogs, but the internet made the habit mainstream. Many women happily self-identify as wine moms, with lots of memes such as “Wine is to moms what duct tape is to dads. It fixes everything,” appearing to poke fun at the issue.

But drinking as a form of self-care for exhausted parents hides a public health crisis. It’s not the cute, innocent phenomenon social media tries to make us believe it is. Numerous public health experts have been raising concerns in recent years about the raging mommy wine culture, arguing that it’s nothing more than the normalization of binge drinking.

What are the health effects of binge drinking?

The National Institute of Health defines binge drinking as the type of behavior that causes someone to get intoxicated (as legally defined, .08 BAC) in a short period of time. This amounts to four drinks in two hours for the average woman.

The cultural perception surrounding the mommy wine issue hides the fact that drinking large quantities of alcohol every night is highly damaging for heath and it’s what turns people into alcoholics.

It’s important to note, too, that the effects of alcohol on the female body are not the same as for men. Women get drunk faster because of their body composition, and they also process alcohol more slowly. This means that they are more prone to develop alcohol dependency from the same behaviors that might not necessarily affect men in the same way.

Moreover, alcohol leads to more health damage in women than in men. For example, alcoholic women are more likely to develop heart disease, liver damage, and brain damage than alcoholic men. Women who have a drinking problem also tend to experience osteoporosis and certain types of cancer more than women who only drink moderately.

Other dangers of the mommy wine culture

Binge drinking to cope with the challenges of parenting is not only dangerous for women’s health, but for family life as well. Like other addictive behaviors and mental illneses, alcoholism tends to run in the families. This is possibly because of genetic factors, but also because children learn from parents.

If a child sees their mother drinking every night or dismissing alcohol as harmless, they are likely to follow the same pattern of addiction. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, no less than 10% of children in America live in a household where one (or both) of the parents has a drinking problem.

Being the child of an alcoholic parent increases not only the risk of becoming an alcoholic in adulthood, but also the risk of accidental injury and abuse.

What to do about mommy wine culture?

Dismissing mommy wine culture as a fun, harmless occurrence is dangerous. It’s important to raise awareness on the issue. Newspapers, magazines, and blogs have begun to take the issue seriously, with the culture getting pushback in numerous outlets. Sometimes, the very places that fueled its popularity, like mom-centric blogs, have turned their backs on “mommy juice” and now post articles condemning the practice.

If you think you have or are developing a drinking problem, don’t forget that there are resources out there to get help. Remember that if you’re a mom, seeking help is not just for you — it can also help your family, too.

 

About the Author

Paula Nicola, M.D.
Dr. Nicola is the Facility Director at Renu. She is a trained and board certified medical doctor with specialized training in addiction medicine.

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