Breaking Down "Wine Mom" Culture: Is It Keeping Women Drinking?

As fun as it seems, it might be the cause of a deeper issue 

5 min read

You’ve probably seen them. 

Those wine glasses adorned with cleverly worded sayings at your favorite store. A few aisles away, you can find t-shirts that say things like “mom fuel” and “I’m the fun mommy,” with a printed wine glass tilted slightly to the left. 

Maybe you’ve laughed as you walked by. Maybe you’ve received one as a gift, or maybe you’ve bought one for yourself.

They seem harmless and funny. But for many moms, it’s not a joke.

The reality is that this “wine-mom” culture is partially to blame for normalizing drinking as support and a coping mechanism for tired, overwhelmed mothers.

It’s a big problem

A 2020 study found that women’s heavy drinking increased by 41%.

It’s easy to say, “that’s not me.” But when you look at what that means, you might have a change of mind.

“Heavy drinking” is considered four or more drinks within a couple of hours. And a standard drink of alcohol is considered a 12oz beer or a 5oz glass of wine. 

For many, that sounds like a typical night-out with friends. It might sound like a Friday night barbeque with neighbors while the kids ride their bikes.

We’ve become so used to this type of drinking, that it’s hard to see it for what it is.

It’s not the drinkers fault

There’s no shame to be spread here, but for some people - it doesn’t stop at a couple of drinks. You might know those people. You might be one of those people. 

I am. 

My brain is wired to really really like alcohol. When I drink, I don’t want a couple - I want as much as I can get until it’s time to go to bed. This usually leads to a deathly hangover, bad decisions, and regret. I had always wondered why I couldn’t just have a few drinks like everyone else. 

After becoming a mother for the first time, I was told by society that alcohol was the answer to my problems - if I could just drink it “responsibly.” And when I couldn’t, I was left feeling like I was a failure. It wasn’t until after I quit that I realized it wasn’t me, it was the alcohol.

I was sick of living in that cycle and I quit drinking in 2018 when my son was 18-months old. My life is so much better without alcohol in it.

It’s a joke…until it isn’t

Jokes about moms drinking are what keep moms drinking. Why would anyone quit something when everyone around them is doing it too? Binge drinking is glorified in our society. The wine glasses and t-shirts are everywhere.  SNL even did a sketch to show how cringe-worthy it is.

When a mom takes the courageous step to question her relationship with alcohol, she’s told that she’s the one to blame. It’s her fault, not the substance. It’s a joke to our society until it’s our problem. 

On the outside I had it all together. And for the most part, I did. I had a good job, a good marriage, and I was a good mother. There was only one thing holding me back.

Hiding a problem with alcohol is easy. 

And what’s easier is not realizing it’s a problem. The wine-mom culture allows us to fit in. When we throw on a t-shirt that says “it’s not drinking alone if the kids are home,” everybody laughs. 

But so many moms are struggling. They don’t realize there’s another way. The stigma associated with quitting drinking tells us that we need to blow up our lives to stop. Our society has made it clear that having a problem with alcohol looks like checking into rehab or living under a bridge.

So, what’s next?

There’s one simple thing we can all do: assess our relationships with alcohol.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking. Just take a moment to think about your drinking. When do you drink? Do you drink to cope or escape? Is your drinking out of habit or necessity?

More women than ever before are questioning their relationships with alcohol. For many, it’s become a severe problem in their lives, especially since the pandemic. Many people are starting to make changes for health reasons. We want to look, feel, and parent at our highest potential. Our kids deserve that.

Moms Need Support

Parenting is hard. But moms need more than wine memes. They need someone to ask how they’re doing and listen to what they say, instead of handing them a bottle of wine. 

We need to make assessing our relationships with alcohol just as common as cutting out dairy or sugar. When someone says no to a drink, don’t give them a hard time. 

Recognize how alcohol shows up in your life. Pay attention to the alcohol messaging you see the next time you’re at the store. 

Support other parents. Instead of making a joke about drinking, offer your time and attention to them in a way that benefits them and our society. 

We’re all in this together.