“Surviving Motherhood – One sip at a time.” “Liquid Therapy.” “I wine because they whine.” A popular meme this past Mother's Day read: "If you aren't screaming 'BARTENDER' at your husband all day, you're doing it wrong!" The “wine mom” sayings go on and on. They are mounted on glasses, t-shirts, cell phone cases, key chains, etc. You’ll find them on chalkboards outside of restaurants and bars, posters on store windows, or signage on end-caps in grocery stores that sell wine and beer. Social media memes and messaging screaming the martyrdom of motherhood floods Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with hashtags like #SendWine #WineMom #MommyJuice. Even #bravoholic is seen on snarky posts featuring a female hand grasping the stem of a wine glass accompanied by a note of maternal declaration of courage to complete the day saddled with temper tandems, disrespecting teens, piles of laundry, and struggling to cook dinner for the family. Women seek comradery in Facebook groups with names like: “Moms Gone Wine” “The Wine Mom Chronicles” or “Moms Who Love Wine.” The sentiment: Parenting is so hard. The only way to endure it is with alcohol.
What may have started out as a joke years ago has escalated to blaming children for the stress endured by moms who have worked so hard that they deserve their wine. Or worse, these moms have it so hard they simply can’t get through the day without wine. At their worst, these messages blame the children outright for a parent drinking in excess. Mainstream media is raising concern for the growing trend with articles like The Washington Post’s “The Cheeky ‘Wine Mom’ Trope Isn’t Just Dumb. It’s Dangerous” or the Today’s Show’s “Do Moms Need Too Much Wine? Women’s Drinking Habits Spark Concern.” These articles often mention the dangers of normalizing problem drinking, especially at a time binge drinking by women is growing. Often overlooked is remembering that our children bare witness to it all, reading the messages and listening to the declarations ... and believing them.
These messages grow louder around Mother’s Day and the approaching summer vacation. As a popular sentiment, it is important to remember how kids and teens hear these types of comments. And when alcohol is a problem in the household, and often alcohol misuse and addiction is accompanied by other ACEs, remember these jokes aren’t humorous. Instead, the comments reinforce what children have already convinced themselves: It’s my fault. The most important thing to tell children is that problem drinking is not their fault. Tell them they didn’t cause it, they can’t control it, and they can’t cure it.
We need to begin to counter these messages, with our businesses and on social media. At a time where the addiction epidemic still ravages the nation, binge drinking is of equal concern. And the children most often are the first harmed and the last helped. By letting children believe these messages, it not only damages them, but reinforces the coping mechanism - and the right - to turn to alcohol for everyday stress, ensuring tomorrow's generation of wine moms. If we wish to change things, we actually do need to change things.