“Mommy needs her wine.”
If you think it’s becoming more difficult to avoid seeing phrases like that on social media, you’re not alone.
However, the truth is the increasing prevalence of “mommy juice” culture is no laughing matter.
Rates of drinking and alcohol addiction are on the rise among women. A
Especially as recent research has found an increase in health risks for even just one serving of alcohol per day.
“One reason that drinking is on the rise among women is that the norms around drinking have changed dramatically over the past 50 or so years,” Deidra Roach, medical project officer for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told Healthline.
She explains that up until the mid-20th century, it was considered socially unacceptable for women to drink in public, especially to the point of intoxication. So, women were simply less likely to do so.
That’s obviously changed in recent years.
Melissa O’Neill, director of clinical operations at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in Illinois, points to another possible factor behind the increase as well.
“Women traditionally choose to manage stress and anxiety by turning inward, while men turn outward,” she said. “We see that a lot at Timberline, people really using it as a maladaptive coping skill to manage stress, anxiety, and underlying mental health conditions that haven’t been diagnosed.”
Both Roach and O’Neill agree that the rise of “mommy juice” culture has contributed to a normalization of drinking among women.
This is a truth that can be troublesome for those in recovery trying to find their place in a world that simply assumes all moms must need wine to survive.
There are other factors contributing to the rising drinking rate among women, too.
As Roach points out, there’s an increased availability of alcohol as well as rising rates of anxiety and depression.
Nevertheless, Roach says “anecdotal evidence suggests that cultural factors are playing a very important role.”
None of this paints a great picture, particularly for those who are trying to maintain sobriety in a world where everything from their book club to their after-work get-togethers seem to revolve around alcohol.
In fact, O’Neill says one of the suggestions for women leaving Timberline is to potentially seek out new social groups.
“It does make recovery more difficult, because they go back to their PTA or country club and everyone is drinking. And there are maybe members of those groups, friends of theirs, who have mild to moderate substance abuse issues themselves. But it’s become so normalized that being the sober one actually sets people apart now,” O’Neill said.
Then there are the kids who are growing up in a culture where heavier drinking is normalized.
Leslie R. Walker-Harding, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and chief academic officer at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told Healthline that there’s definitely an impact.
“Kids look up to their parents, they watch what they are doing. So even if a parent is saying a kid shouldn’t drink, if that kid is watching their parent drink every night, it’s going to have an impact,” she said.
Walker-Harding explains that kids who are in homes where parents drink in excess are more likely to grow into adults who drink in excess themselves.
“Using euphemisms like ‘mommy juice’ might actually make it worse, because then you have a child who may pick it up thinking it’s actually juice. That phrasing won’t detour them. It just makes what you’re doing all that much more appealing,” she said.
However, Walker-Harding doesn’t suggest parents should completely avoid drinking altogether.
But she does point out that “what a parent does, that’s the most powerful message — more powerful than even anything their peers do.”
O’Neill voices other concerns as well.
“There’s this normal part of child development that hinges on the attunement a parent has with their child. We see ruptures in attachment that happen when a parent is drinking and that attunement is broken,” she said.
O’Neill explains that once a parent has several glasses of wine, they may become frustrated, stressed, or simply just not as attuned to what their child is saying, doing, or needing in the moment.
“Kids end up experiencing a really inconsistent relationship, and it does create attachment injuries that can be very impactful,” she said.
Most parents realize their kids are always watching. What they may not realize is the message they’re sending by how they’re treating their own alcohol consumption.
Roach points to the
“Generally, alcohol becomes problematic when it interferes with one’s daily life,” Roach explained.
Roach also points to these signs as potential indicators of alcohol misuse:
- continuing to drink even though it’s causing problems with family or work
- drinking more than intended
- having to drink more than before to get a desired effect
- being unable to stop drinking after repeated attempts
- continuing to drink even though it makes one feel depressed or anxious
If you’re worried you may be experiencing symptoms of alcohol use disorder, Roach suggests reviewing this checklist.
“The more symptoms one has, the more urgent the need for change,” she said.
If making that change for yourself isn’t enough of a motivating factor, Walker-Harding wants to remind parents that their kids are likely to model the behavior they witness.
Helping them grow into adults who have a healthy relationship with alcohol means not modeling an unhealthy relationship with alcohol yourself.
“Really watching how responsible you are with alcohol is going to have a direct impact on your kids,” Walker-Harding said.
She encourages all parents to think a little harder about the messages they may be unintentionally sending with their own alcohol consumption habits and “mommy juice” jokes.