The Dangers of Mommy Wine Culture

“It’s Mommy’s turn to wine!”

You’ve probably seen the memes on Facebook or the clichéd quotes on novelty glasses and sparkly t-shirts. Mommy wine culture is everywhere.

Wine moms are fun, cool, and young at heart. They’re the antithesis of the supermom stereotype, demonstrating that it’s normal for parents not to be perfect. The message that they’re sending is right – everyone has flaws, moms included – but the way they’re going about it is wrong, even downright dangerous.

For the uninitiated, a wine mom is someone who drinks to deal with the stresses of motherhood and jokes about it online. As a culture, it began to become popular in the mid-2010s with the rise of tumblers emblazoned with the words “mommy juice” and bedazzled t-shirts proclaiming “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a wine mom”. It’s a fun joke that many moms are in on, but there is a dark side to this mommy drinking culture.

Why is Wine Mom Culture Dangerous?

On the surface, the wine mom culture seems like a lighthearted joke. After all, being a mom is hard work – why shouldn’t they have a drink or two to take the edge off? 

It pressures moms who don’t drink. In certain areas, primarily in affluent suburban neighborhoods, mommy wine culture is the norm. So much so that sober moms feel self-conscious for their decision not to drink and even feel societal pressure to indulge along with their wine mom friends.  

It sets an example for the kids, and not a good one. Kids who grow up watching a parent binge drink are more likely to binge drink when they get older, though they’re also unlikely to wait until they’re of age to start experimenting with alcohol. This is because the parent has normalized alcoholism and binge drinking – if a child sees this daily from a young age, he or she is less likely to understand the negative impacts that drinking alcohol has. Not only this, but even hearing jokes about being “mommy’s reason to wine” can damage a child’s self-esteem.

The Deeper Issues

It could be exacerbating a deeper issue, like postpartum depression. Postpartum depression (or PPD) is a mood disorder that sets in anywhere from four weeks to a year after birth. Symptoms of PPD range from a milder, temporary form of sadness known as the “baby blues” (which 70-80% of women experience) to a full-on clinical, deep depression (experienced by 1 in 7 women in the United States). That said, many mothers don’t realize that they have PPD. Alcohol, being a depressant, can worsen symptoms of postpartum depression and make it harder for the mom to connect with her child emotionally.

It creates a cute mask for functioning alcoholism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women. Mommy drinking culture sees mothers having three or four glasses of wine to deal with the events of the day – well beyond these limits. The casualness with which drinking is talked about in wine mom groups makes it easy to hide functioning alcoholism. Of course, not everyone who identifies as a wine mom is an alcoholic, but the reality is that many are.

Sobering Facts About Mommy Wine Culture

Drinking alcohol is not a positive coping mechanism for any reason, and the reality is that mothers drink excessively for various reasons. Some of the most common, according to a study by Caron Treatment include:

  • Experiencing “mommy guilt” for leaving their kid to take care of themselves
  • Mood changes as a result of fluctuating hormones
  • Feeling socially isolated
  • A feeling of a loss of freedom

In a Today Show study, 40% of moms admitted to having a drink to deal with the stress of motherhood. Of that 40%, one third reported having a friend vocalize worry about their drinking habits – and for good reason.

Binge drinking isn’t a habit that comes without risk. Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Approximately 95,000 Americans die of alcohol-related causes each year – more than any other drug combined – and 27,000 of these deaths are women. Experts agree that alcohol is more harmful than crack or heroin, yet if it were a crack pipe in Mom’s hand instead of a Yeti filled with pinot grigio, we wouldn’t think this culture was so cute and funny.

It’s true that the supermom persona is toxic, unrealistic, and needs to go away, but the solution is not to swing just as hard in the opposite direction. The wine mom persona is just as harmful. “Mommy juice” glamourizes heavy drinking and hides all kinds of problems under a sparkly, fun, and #relatable mask.

Society is doing a grave disservice mothers by perpetuating this culture as nothing more than a harmless stress reliever. You don’t need the wine, Mama. You need support, human connection, and a heavy pour of self-love.

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