Mommy needs her wine: The message this sends to kids

As parents, what message are we sending our kids when we associate stress relief with reaching for a bottle of wine?

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Mommy needs her wine. It’s wine o’clock. It’s mommy juice.

When exactly did wine become the punchline to every joke and Facebook status?

Wine seems to have become a necessary part of motherhood—like having the latest stroller or an ironic T-shirt. There are even wine brands called Mommy Juice and Mad Housewife. And hey, who doesn’t enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a hard day? It’s a little bit of “me time” in a chaotic world. But when does the desire for a glass of wine—and the accompanying joke about it—go too far?

The Today show recently did a survey that revealed 40 percent of moms admitted to having a glass of wine to help deal with the stress of being a parent. One third of those women said they have a friend who was worried about their alcohol consumption. More than 11,000 people responded to the survey—now that’s a lot of mommy juice.

We love to talk about our drinking. Every day I go online and come across funny eCards and jokes about the need for a cocktail, and I get it. But at what point do the jokes stop because you know your kids are noticing?

We have to talk about safe alcohol consumption in our house because we have a child who is about to enter their teen years. My son just finished grade eight, and we’ve already heard the stories about kids drinking until they vomit and stealing beer from their parents. We know teens drink—they drink a lot. What kind of message would I be sending my teenager about not using alcohol as a crutch if he saw me joking online about how much I needed it because of the stress of dealing with him and his siblings?

If you think your kids are too young to get the joke just remember that teaching them about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll doesn’t start at 14. It’s a conversation that starts earlier. It’s not a “talk” anymore—it’s a two-way dialogue that lasts for years. Being a good role model is the still the most important factor in navigating kids through their teen years.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (yes, it’s funded by the liquor makers) started a Twitter campaign called #refreshyourfunny as part of their Talk Early initiative. They are asking parents to stop making jokes about drinking on social media because it sends a mixed message to kids. Many people have since admitted they’d never stopped to consider the message they were sending their kids.

Read more: Drunk Mom: From party girl to potty girl>

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility did a study on how teens view their parents’ conversations about alcohol and you know what it revealed? That kids wanted consistency—they wanted their parents to say the same thing to their faces as they’ve been saying online. They read our Facebook updates and our social media comments. They read it over our shoulders, they see it on our phones, they see it on their relatives’ timelines. We think our conversations online are private, but we forget the whole world is watching—including our kids.

This doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying a glass of wine. It just means being honest about why we’re doing it, without attaching a throwaway joke. Some days “wine o’clock” can’t come early enough. But that doesn’t mean that we have to broadcast it.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

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