Why “Wine Mom” Culture is a Problem

What is Wine Mom Culture?

Wine mom culture encourages drinking alcohol to take the edge off the stresses of being a parent. It’s reinforced by memes on the internet and products like wine glasses that say “mommy fuel” or “They whine. I wine.” Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotbe of NBC’s “Today Show” became popular and well known for drinking wine at 10 a.m. in the early 2010s.

The wine mom comes from the world of mommy blogs. Mommy blogs celebrated the moms who could “do it all,” keeping perfect homes, taking care of children, and working full time. But at the same time, they also celebrate “realness” like admitting to feeding kids Pop Tarts for dinner or drinking a bottle of wine between dinner and bedtime.

What began as a source of harmless, humorous memes and bonding for stressed-out mothers is beginning to look like a full-blown public health problem. Experts are expressing concern across the United States. 

Who Becomes a Wine Mom?

Alone, a wine mom is someone who likes to drink to take the edge off parenting duties and who is open to making fun of the fact. But as a group, wine moms have started to represent bothersome trends in modern parenting, or even a comfortable middle-class sense of security. Considering that, should you label every mom who likes to drink wine a “wine mom”? It depends on who you ask. The wine mom could be a put-upon and sympathetic person or a suspiciously harmful one.

Why Women Drink

One important feature in understanding the public health effect of wine mom culture is getting a picture of why women (especially moms) drink. Clearly, the wine mom culture isn’t making moms drink. It’s a pop-culture reflection of real, overlooked issues in our society and the lives of women. There are complex underlying problems that can’t easily be solved. Problems that range from professional and personal pressures to basic ideas about the role of women and mothers in society.

  • Socializing: Alcohol has always been used as a way to socialize. Unfortunately, social drinking and binge drinking go together, and binge drinking often is one of the first signs and causes of problem drinking. It prevents women from seeing the signs of problem drinking in themselves or their friends.
  • Stress relief: The main reason women give for drinking is to relieve stress. Through the decades to today’s “mommy juice,” the stress of motherhood has been seen as a disease that needs a cure. Sadly, the cure often is worse than the disease.

Self-Medication

  • Self-medicating: Besides simple stress relief, the drinking shown in wine mom culture can be considered dangerous self-medicating. This is especially true for undiagnosed or unknown emotional and psychological issues. More than 10% of women report depression and more than 8% report anxiety disorders. 
  • Rebellion: The “bad mom” genre in movies, TV, and online is appealing to some moms. It represents the rebellion against social pressures and the unrealistic social beliefs about the perfect mom and the women who can do it all. 

Social Media

Moms who drink wine or other alcoholic beverages obviously existed before the internet. However, the internet launched them into social media stardom. During the mid-2010s, the phrase “wine mom” got popular because it became common for moms to joke online about drinking wine to cope with the stress of motherhood. Wine moms began poking fun at themselves in viral videos, blog posts, and memes.

The humor of the wine mom can be empowering for mothers. University of California associate history professor Lisa Jacobson says she recognized immediately why “wine mom” humor has the agreement of mothers. “It allows women to embrace their identity as mothers, while also refusing to be solely defined by that role.” The memes contain open expressions of frustration at the coexisting monotony and chaos of modern mothering and struck her as “a vaguely feminist rejection of the vision of the traditional self-sacrificing ‘homemaker’ mom that’s been memorialized in the 1950s sitcoms.”

Beer Dads

In the 20th-century picture of the nuclear family, moms raised the kids while dads worked outside the home and came home to relax until bedtime. Their drinking time was basically built into the daily schedule. But “beer dads” has never become an internet joke, even though fathers are often stereotypically identified with beer.

Symptoms of a Serious Problem?

Wine mom humor has frequently been accused of glorifying excessive drinking Or otherwise promoting drinking as a coping method among parents. Clearly, for anyone drinking to self-medicate or developing an alcohol addiction is a cause to be concerned. 

Historically, it’s been more culturally unacceptable for women to be drunk than men because it is viewed as a violation of different ideas about femininity. Besides that, mothering is known widely to be a majorly important job that doesn’t end every day at 5 p.m. or offer any time off. So any time a mom is drinking it could be seen as drinking on the job.

Sounding the Alarm

And now, some of the mommy wine culture’s biggest supporters are sounding the alarm. It is being argued that normalizing wine culture isn’t really giving women an opening for self-care. In fact, it’s probably damaging their health.

On a wider level, America appears to have a bit of an alcohol problem. A study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, discovered that alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. doubled between 1999 and 2007. The largest increase was among non-Hispanic white women. 

Similarly, a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that between 2001 and 2013 the rates of high-risk drinking (Behavior that could lead to alcoholism) were up 58% for women. And rates of problem drinking rose more than 84%. Problem drinking is defined as drinking to the point that it interferes with your life or you are unable to stop.

Keep in mind that those numbers come before the real popularity of wine mom culture in the last five years. It seems that internet culture is reflecting and expanding a social trend. This is what social media is good for.

Alcoholic Moms

Even though there is no evidence that the thriving mommy wine culture is directly responsible for the trend, these findings tend to weaken the idea that drinking alcohol is something you do to take care of yourself. For a long time, we have been led to believe that moderate drinking may have some health benefits. However, there’s just as much evidence to indicate the opposite.

With that in mind, how do you determine whether you’re drinking too much? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that heavy drinking for women is considered more than eight drinks per week. However, the majority of heavy drinkers don’t meet the standards to be diagnosed with severe alcohol use disorder (AUD). “Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, school, social activities, or how you think and feel,” according to the CDC. 

Wine Mom

Burnout

The problem is that in this culture we are told that wine and other alcohol is something we deserve. It makes everything about drinking cloudier. Do you drink too much or are you just doing what you need to take care of yourself? Don’t all tired moms do this?

Recent research has determined that parental burnout is very real. Up to 14% of parents now qualify as burned out. This means that they’re physically and emotionally exhausted to the extent that they may be distancing themselves from their kids. Or they may be feeling that they are unqualified as parents. Parents need outlets, but former wine moms are pushing back against the idea that alcohol should be that outlet.

“Supermoms”

Wine mom jokes reveal the most immediate problem is that modern parenting has become a more intense and isolating job than it used to be. Wine mom memes could be understood as an unspoken rejection of the notion of the supermom who can do it all. On the other hand, the existence of that ideal in the first place may be what makes mothering more stressful. 

Supermoms are usually understood to be both successful career women and successful mothers and homemakers. But still, most workplaces are better suited to childless workers than parents. Similarly, they tend to favor childless women over mothers. This all means that in real life, many women who try to be supermoms feel like they just end up cramming a lot of hurried, flawed parenting into the hours they’re at home.

Women, Wine, and Alcohol

When it comes to drinking, life is not fair to women. More men report having a problem with alcohol, but women are more likely to develop an AUD. Due to the composition of women’s bodies, women get drunk faster, process alcohol slower, and become dependent easier than men. That’s why, when experts talk about moderate alcohol use, one glass of wine is moderate for women.

As a result, women who are alcoholics are more likely to suffer health damage than alcoholic men. Alcoholic moms are also more likely to develop: 

  • brain damage
  • liver damage
  • heart damage
  • hormonal problems
  • cancer
  • osteoporosis

Alcoholic Moms and Their Families 

The danger of alcoholism is also a serious threat to family life. Like other mental illnesses and addictive behaviors, alcoholism tends to run in families. Addictive behaviors are partly genetically linked, but when children see a mother self-medicate, they are more likely to see it as harmless and are more likely to follow the parent into addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that as much as 10% of children in this country live in a home where at least 1 parent has a drinking problem. Having just 1 alcoholic parent increases a child’s risk of:

  • abuse
  • accidental injury
  • becoming an alcoholic in adulthood

These dangers are increased because women are less likely than men to get help for their addiction. There appears to be a built-in social learning that makes us unaware of addiction in women — we call it the wine mommy culture. Conversely, there is still the social stigma against addiction in women, which makes them afraid to seek help. Even when they know they have a problem. This means that it is a health problem that can continue through generations.

Not Just Moms

For all the talk of wine moms, researchers have not found much evidence to imply that binge-drinking is a problem limited to moms. A study published in 2019 found that all adult women were drinking more in 2018 than in 2006. Likewise, most adult men were too. 

The Sober Curious Movement

The meaning of “sober curious” is pretty obvious. It suggests that you are questioning your need to drink alcohol, what it’s doing for you if it’s worth it, and what you might be able to accomplish without it. Compared to people who identify themselves as alcoholics or problem drinkers, sober curious people are people who still have the option to choose. In short, it means that you realize that alcohol probably isn’t serving you well and you want to learn more about it.

As we already know, alcohol abuse among women has been sharply on the rise for years. A 2020 study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that the rate of deaths involving alcohol consumption for men increased by 35% from 1999 to 2017. But for women, the numbers increased by 85% in the same period. At the same time, the association between wine and motherhood also rose.

Can Alcoholic Moms be Treated?

Overcoming the shame and prejudice that American culture has against women with addictions won’t be easy to do. But if you are a mom with a drinking problem, you aren’t just doing it for yourself, but for the children watching you. They aren’t the ones responsible for your drinking, but they may be the reason you stop. 

You or a loved one can find treatment at CNV Detox. Whether you are a wine mom with a drinking problem or you have an alcohol use disorder, we have the experience to help you recover. We are a judgment-free zone and our only care is to help you recover and get back to your family.

Just in case you have an underlying mental disorder, something common with addiction, we have a dual diagnosis program that will help you understand and solve your mental and emotional issues. Contact us now. We know you have questions and that’s a good thing. There is no reason to let this go on.

References:

www.abcnews.go.com

www.theatlantic.com/family/archive

www.huffpost.com

www.mphonline.org/wine-mom-culture