Sober Motherhood: Two Words Marketers Don’t Want You to Hear
Achieving and maintaining sobriety is a daunting task for any person who struggles with addiction. It’s an even more difficult task for many women who navigate the mounting pressures of motherhood: self-inflicted guilt; the rising costs; limited resources; and the relentless, watchful eyes of a critical society.
The matter is further complicated by a “pro-drinking zeitgeist” that permeates today’s motherhood culture. The entertainment industry, social media and marketers all foist alcohol consumption as the battle-ax for the stressed out mom.
So, it’s no wonder that many women in the throes of raising children struggle to gain and keep their sobriety. While it’s widely accepted that you can’t help someone who won’t help himself or herself, how do you get help when everything in our culture is telling you there is nothing wrong with you?
Social Media Portrayal of Mom Types
There is a perception that a certain type of mom is high-strung and overbearing. They are given names like “Tiger Mom” “Helicopter Mom” or “Pinterest Mom.” These labels have negative connotations and are often positioned as the direct enemy of the Wine Mom. In this instance, being a wine mom is framed as rebellion to and freedom from that sector of moms that is seen as demanding and unreasonable.
There are a lot of mom “meet-ups” and other events that are often free and open to the public. Programs like yoga in the park and mommy play dates are often the main event and these are usually free. A wine mixer typically follows them and this is where promoters expect to make money. Products and merchandise can usually be purchased at these outings–things like mommy’s Sippy cup. Wine boxes are now dubbed “Mommy’s Juice Box.”
The Self Care Movement
Wine is promoted in turns as therapy, a reward, and lumped in with the new “self-care” movement. It’s more acceptable to take a breather or allow space to stop and smell the roses as needed. Moms especially are encouraged to step off the hamster wheel and take needed time away to reboot and refresh. While this is a great and much needed message, when wine or alcohol is thrown in the mix, this movement exists on the slippery slope of overindulgence.
Glamorization of Alcohol
Like so much else in today’s society, Internet and social media influence looms large over Motherhood. Movies like “Trainwreck” and popular television reality franchises like “The Real Housewives” tend to glamorize alcohol use until it is not only normal but also even enviable to self-medicate in such a way.
Moms and Alcohol Use Seen As Humorous
Many memes, videos and blogs paint so-called Wine Moms in a humorous light. What was once taboo has been normalized. Alcohol use is seen as commonplace and even elevated to a funny degree. By this logic, women seeking sobriety are often labeled as Goody Two Shoes and made to feel ashamed of their choice.
WHY: Financial Incentive
This current pro-drinking attitude isn’t one that marketers want to shut down. In any industry, the bottom line is paramount. Advertising in the wine industry alone reaches totals of 2 billion dollars. Wine sales are very lucrative; moms are a secure demographic.
Thus, it’s much easier to push alcohol as a quick, accessible Band-Aid. It’s easier to commodify a solution than it is to address the real concerns and make a true effort to improve conditions.
WHAT We Should Be Addressing:
Very Real Pressures of Motherhood
The stress of motherhood is a complex knot of peer pressures, self-guilt, and a lack of resources for new moms. Chief among these concerns are inadequate maternity leave, non-existent paternity leave, hostile environments for breastfeeding moms and shaming bottle-feeding moms.
Raising children is expensive at every turn. Health care, day care, and basic supplies like food, diapers and medicine all add up. And there is not much in the way of social programs or government assistance for new moms during these crucial times. Though the basic cost of living continues to rise, wages remains stagnant. Minimum wage leaves most families under the poverty level. Additionally, women are still up against wage inequality, making 75 cents on the dollar that every man makes.
Anxiety, depression and other common mental illnesses can be exacerbated by the struggles of motherhood. Alcohol is often misused to self-medicate a mental illness. With alcohol depicted as a reward for motherhood, this is a confusing message for those women struggling to treat their illness properly and seek rehabilitation.
Resulting Consequences: Avoiding Treatment
Many women find it easier to avoid treatment altogether. There is fear that once they seek sobriety, they will be outnumbered by their pro-drinking peers and thus isolated from them altogether.
However, it is okay to do what works for you. If you are a mom seeking treatment, or know a mom who wishes to do so, contact SpringBoard Recovery. There are many options to tailor a program for your specific needs.
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-staying-clean-and-sober-67900
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
- Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-in-society/201402/the-meaning-sobriety
- Parents: https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/what-is-helicopter-parenting/
- The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/05/wine-moms-explained/612001/
- The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/beginner-yoga
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/self-care-strategies-overall-stress-reduction-3144729
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001944.htm
- Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201506/9-ways-talk-yourself-out-unnecessary-guilt
- National Institute of mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml