Is Wine Culture Normalizing Alcoholic Moms?

Wine mom culture has almost become a form of binge drinking for some mothers. This, coupled with the many social references to it, has made it widely accepted throughout American society. 

Last Updated: Sep 21st 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

You’ve probably heard and seen the sayings on coffee mugs and tote bags.

  • “Mommy needs her juice.”
  • “I wine because my kids whine.”

Companies have created wine spouts that mothers can hide in their purses, and there are internet memes that show “wine mom starter packs.” These may seem like jokes to the general public, but alcoholic mothers are becoming more common due to the promotion of wine mom culture. We’ll break down wine moms, wine mom culture and the effects of alcoholic mothers on children.

What is Wine Mom Culture?

Although it’s a relatively new term, wine mom culture refers to the growing number of “wine moms” who encourage drinking to escape from the daily stresses of parenthood. It also encourages alcohol use for coping with these stresses through internet memes and household products. Not all women who are part of the wine mom culture are alcoholic mothers, but many do suffer from alcohol abuse and can become alcoholics. 

Wine mom culture exploded in the late 2000s with the rise of social media, which has allowed people with common interests to discuss them on a far-reaching online platform from the comfort of their homes. Early signs of the wine mom culture movement could be seen in 2009 with the formation of the 713,000-member strong Facebook group “Moms Who Need Wine.” Here, mothers share stories, articles, and memes on how raising children can be difficult and requires heavy drinking to cope. 

There are also hundreds of hashtags related to wine mom culture on Instagram, including #WineMom (58,700 posts), #MamaNeedsADrink (45,300 posts) and #MommyJuice (30,200 posts). Many of these posts show moms holding a glass and making jokes about how they need to unwind with some alcohol at the end of a long day.

“Wine has become normalized, expected and then reinforced by popular culture, social media, and advertising,” said Gabrielle Glaser, author of “Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink — and How They Can Regain Control.”

Social media is not the only channel responsible for making wine mom culture as popular as it is today. Movies and TV shows such as “Poms,” “Bad Moms” and “Mom” have perpetuated it and made it a normal and acceptable part of society. As a result, the wine mom culture is virtually in line with binge drinking.

Wine Mom Culture and Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is already a dominant feature of American culture, as seen in the media and on college campuses around the country. The NIAAA defines binge drinking as four drinks for women and five drinks for men in about two hours.

Wine mom culture has become a form of binge drinking, and this coupled with the many social references to it has made it accepted throughout society. 

Consuming one or two glasses of wine each night isn’t considered dangerous. However, women who are consuming more than three to four glasses a day may not realize that this could pose a danger to themselves or the people around them. What may start as only hving a few glasses of wine a day could turn into a serious issue.

Why Alcoholic Mothers Drink

Drinking womanIn these cases, wine moms can find it helpful to drink and “take the day off.” Many moments in parenting can be considered blessngs, but other, more stressful times can cause moms (and dads) grief and stress. Why do mothers turn to alcohol in these moments?

According to Psychology Today, there are a few primary reasons why alcoholic mothers drink.

  • Instant gratification and stress relief: Alcohol can provide an immediate reward for mothers who are struggling to raise children at home.
  • Lack of support: If alcoholic mothers can’t find a babysitter or affordable daycare when needed, they may feel the need to drink.
  • Not enough “me time”: Moms may not find time for self-care while they’re looking after their children.
  • Rebellion: Drinking is an exciting experience for many. Once a woman reaches motherhood, she has to take on more responsibilities, leaving less time for being spontaneous and irresponsible.
  • Mental health issues: Mothers who suffer from depression or anxiety are at an even higher risk of becoming alcoholics. They may drink wine to self-medicate and temporarily ease their pain.

Mothers who drink frequently can develop many physical and psychological problems, which in turn can affect their spouses and children.

In 2019, Harmony Hobbs, a mom of three from Louisiana, realized that she was becoming an alcoholic mother. She ran a blog called “Modern Mommy Madness,” which had many followers and discussed the hardships of parenting. After becoming a stay-at-home mom, she started out drinking about two glasses of wine per day, but at her peak, that number increased to a bottle and a half of wine per day. When she would get angry, she would take her emotions out on her children and her husband, Robbie.

While filming a YouTube series with Hobbs called “The Mom Cave,” friend Audrey Hayworth noticed that Hobbs was drinking more than she was during filming, and she let her know. Afterward, Hobbs realized that her wine drinking was getting out of hand. In a subsequent video with Hayworth, she announced her addiction to their thousands of followers, and she then made her blog into one about her recovery from alcoholism. 

Hobbs later found a “sober curious” movement, which included many alcoholic mothers recovering from their addiction and rejected the wine mom culture. Through this supportive community, Hobbs found the resolve and strength to stay sober. Since quitting drinking, Hobbs has found that she feels better each day and that she has found herself again.

Alcoholic Mothers and Children

Children of alcoholic parents also suffer. Studies show that children who have one or more alcoholic parents are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse themselves. According to a 2012 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 10 percent of children in the U.S. live with a parent with alcohol problems.

If children see that their mothers are using wine as a way to cope with stress, they may turn to this as they grow up as well. Children of alcoholic mothers may also have to take on the role of parent: If a mom is unable to shop for groceries after binge drinking, a child may have to take over that responsibility. When more of these added responsibilities pile up, they can cause stress for a child and lead them to practice destructive behaviors to cope as they get older.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12 percent of women report binge drinking three times a month, averaging on five drinks per binge. Some harmful physical effects of drinking on alcoholic mothers include liver failure, heart disease, brain damage and, later in life, cancer. When a mother develops physical issues related to alcoholism, it can be hard on her children and the rest of her family.

How Can Alcoholic Mothers Cope With Stress Without Drinking?

These can include:

  • Reading a book
  • Taking a long bath
  • Volunteering
  • Exercising
  • Scheduling a date night

If you’re a mom who is burnt out, it may seem easiest to turn to wine to relieve stress. However, there are several activities you can do that don’t involve drinking alcohol that will ultimately benefit you and your family in the long term. 

Another healthy way to cope with the stress of parenting that doesn’t involve drinking is journaling or documenting your progress on social media. Moms who are active on social media may find that following inspirational accounts can help them on their journey to recovery. For as many wine mom accounts that are on Instagram, there are almost as many that promote sober parenting: Michelle Smith of @recoveryisthenewblack_, Celeste Yvonne of @theultimatemomchallenge and Harmony Hobbs of @modernmommymadness. 

Changing mindsets can also be helpful. If “wine moms” slowly look more at the blessings of being a parent more than the stressors, they can look at their lives differently and see how wonderful being a parent can be. Once moms realize that having children is something to treasure rather than “getting in the way” of their lives, their motivation to stay sober for their families and themselves can increase.

Creating a daily routine that is regular and stable can be beneficial to you and your family as well. When you have predictability and stability in your life, alcoholic mothers are less likely to relapse and stray away from daily tasks.

There is no shame in asking for help and support, either. Spouses, significant others, parents, and friends can offer guidance and step in if alcoholic mothers need a hand with childcare.

Get Help Today

If you are a mother who is struggling with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, you don’t have to go through it alone. Our team of professionals can lead you on the right path. If you’re looking for ways to curb your wine-drinking habit, 1st Step is here to help. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment for alcoholism, call 855-425-4846.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.