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About That Joke Where Moms Need Wine to Cope

Little Timmy goes to bed and Mommy posts a selfie on one, or all of, her social media profiles, praising the fact that her child is finally out of her hair and she can relax. After a day like today, with a child like that, she deserves a little bit of “Mommy Juice” or time with “Mommy’s Juice Box” which is fermented grape juice a.k.a: wine. Moms don’t need wine to be a Mom. Wine is not some super powered “Be a better Mommy” substance that makes the horrors of life responsibilities change. The old joke of Mommy’s needing substances to be better Mommies is not only tired, it is offensive, it is insensitive, and it is overall dangerous. Some Mommies are alcoholics, and they don’t need to be told to drink.

The history of “Mommy-isms” when it comes to substances is long. When early variations of barbiturates and benzodiazepines were introduced they were marketed and referred to as “Mommy’s little helper”. Anti-anxiety medications, which can lead to addiction, chemical dependency, and overdose death when lethally combined with other substances, are dangerous. When necessary due to a mental health condition, they can be life saving. Suggesting that a mom pop a pill or drink some wine to cope with her life is damaging because all too easily, what starts as a perhaps comedic effort, turns into an alcohol problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 26,000 women die from alcohol and alcohol related issues every year.

Megan Zander, a contributor to Romper wrote on the subject of the Mommy and wine joke, elegantly making a point about how the joke affects children. “Jokes about needing wine to deal with parenting could lead a child to draw the conclusion that their mother needs to intoxicate herself in order to deal with them, or that they’re something they’re doing wrong in their behavior which forces their mother to drink.” More importantly as well as equally damaging, these jokes send the message that making a celebratory and rewarding turn to substances like alcohol is the way to cope with difficulties. Whatever being a “Mommy” entails might be a metaphor for life. Basic developmental psychology and evolutionary anthropology shows that children learn from their mothers. Daughters, for example, take cues from the way Mommy looks at her body in the mirror and makes critical comments. If there’s something wrong with Mommy, children think, if there is something Mommy can’t handle, then there’s something wrong with me and there’s something I can’t handle. Setting them up for the future with every imprint we make, we also let them know that being a Mommy will be the hardest and most taxing job they’ll ever have- one they’ll have to drink over.

What we should be teaching our children and continuing to remind ourselves of is that nothing in life requires a drink. Sober women in recovery learning to be sober parents to themselves and to their children learn this to be true. These women don’t need to turn to alcohol to cope. They don’t even want to.


You are stronger than you know, more capable than you’re told, and more brave than you can imagine. At Villa Tranquil, we celebrate the authentic woman of sobriety, continuing to help her shape her life with compassionate, clinical care and structure. Our unique transitional living opportunity offers women extended recovery and treatment after a primary program. Call us today for information:  214-799-3080