The ‘Mom needs wine’ culture hides the true dangerous cost of alcohol consumption
Drinking culture has spawned a toxic “mom needs wine” mentality that makes it “acceptable” for “middle-class white moms” to drink alcohol at the end of the day, but judges women of color who do the same, claims one author.
Psychotherapist Veronica Valli, who lives in the US, says a normalization of heavy drinking has led women to be ‘culturally conditioned’ to think there’s ‘nothing wrong with rewarding themselves with a drink” after “surviving” another day of parenthood.
She notes that the idea has been embraced by pop culture. Social media is full of slogans like “kids are coming, wine helps,” while parents can shop for baby clothes with messages like, “I’m the reason mom needs wine.”
However, Valli, who is sober, argues that while white “drunk moms” are seen as “harmless,” women of color are more likely to be judged and reported to social services.
According to one author, the culture of drinking has spawned a dangerous “mom needs wine” mentality that makes parents believe they need alcohol to “survive” parenthood. Image bank
“Cute memes and drunk mom jokes are considered harmless fun when it comes to a middle-class white mom,” Valli writes in her new book Soberful.
“But how would a mother of color be perceived? Would a drunk mother of color in charge of her children be seen the same way? How would she be judged?
“The idea that ‘mom needs wine’ is unquestioned for middle and upper class white women. Women of color and working class women would not have the same luxury.
The author interviews Grachelle Sherburne, a licensed clinical social worker, who agrees that “mothers need wine” to “live motherhood” is an example of white privilege.
In the sober photo, Valli claims society is too accepting of the culture of binge drinking
“If there was an organized group of women of color, drinking socially in a public place with their babies on their hips, the Department of Family and Children’s Services would be called immediately,” she claims.
“As a social worker, I’ve seen calls to child protective services about families of color, but for the same situation, resources and support are given to white families instead.”
Valli, who grew up in the UK, says she had years of “self-destructive drinking” before giving up alcohol for good.
She says the issue of the “mom needs wine” mentality is rooted in broader attitudes towards alcohol.
“Alcohol is deliberately associated with as many positive experiences and celebrations as possible,” she writes.
“Most people can’t even imagine a birthday party, Christmas dinner, wedding, co-worker socializing, school reunion or weekend without alcohol.
“I think it’s fair to say that alcohol is appropriate in many of these situations, but there is an important distinction between appropriate use and required use. We can do all of these sober things without our joy or pleasure being diminished in any way.
“But the distinction between optional and mandatory has been almost completely lost. We now consider a significant number of events to be inconceivable without alcohol.
“We have been persuaded that without alcohol none of these events can be tolerable, let alone fun.” We believe we need alcohol to truly appreciate them.
“What bothers me most is the expansion of events and situations that alcohol is now associated with.
The author claims that a normalization of heavy drinking has led women to be “culturally conditioned” to believe that there is “nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with a drink.” Image bank
“I’ve even seen yoga studios recently offering yoga and wine events, because a toxin-laden, dehydrating, central nervous system-depressing substance is exactly what you want with your yoga session.”
However, Valli says this attitude towards alcohol is particularly concerning when it comes to parenting and argues it actually reflects the lack of support available to mothers who are struggling to cope.
“This new ‘Mommy Needs Wine’ culture hits me like a barely concealed primal cry. Women lack the support, childcare and community needed to raise a child,” she wrote.
Psychotherapist Veronica Valli, pictured, shares her thoughts in a new book
“Being a mother is demanding, exhausting and lonely. This makes it easy to accept the lie that alcohol is the best way to create the connection and relief that mothers crave.
“Mothers are desperate to keep a part of themselves because motherhood is so much harder than they thought. And if they can’t be properly supported by their company or spouses, they deserve at least a drink!
The author argues that this casual approach to alcohol glosses over the harmful effects of alcohol that can impact children and families.
“What particularly concerns me is the dishonesty around alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, which is misrepresented as fun and without consequences,” she continues.
“There is a myth that there are only two camps of drinkers: those who can’t handle it (full alcoholics) and everyone else (the majority who can handle it just fine).
“In reality, many people drink to excess and don’t fit the definition of an alcoholic, but they certainly face consequences: hangovers, embarrassment, depression, anxiety, overspending, loss of opportunities or the boredom that alcohol brings to your mind and soul.
“We use our spin-doctor skills to spin our consequences into a humorous story to entertain our friends, while burying our shame, embarrassment and self-loathing.
“We have normalized abnormal alcohol consumption by eliminating its severe and frequent consequences. It is a collective and deliberate denial that alcohol causes any consequences to the vast majority who can “handle” it.
“Hangovers are ignored as insignificant and irrelevant. Alcohol is fun, something we need; it is our right. And it is now inserted into all parenting activities.
Soberful: Uncover a Sustainable, Fulfilling Life Free of Alcohol, by Veronica Valli, published by Sounds True Inc, £14.99