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I've recently come across an article that implies that the popularity of wine in conjunction with parenting is resulting in more mothers developing alcohol problems:

“So many women I know started drinking more after they have kids,” said Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, the blogger and author who has admitted publicly to an alcohol addiction. She was the unofficial keynote of the event, hosted by The Century Council to discuss their new report on women and drunken-driving.

The article claims:

Wine, preferably white, sometimes sparkling, is something of a given when mothers get together these days.

also

It’s the ‘mommy culture’ now. It’s dropping the kids off at ballet to go across the street to meet a friend for a few glasses of wine… It reconnects us to our fun old selves and it’s how we deal with the stress

The focus of the article is about the role of alcohol in modern mothering, and its negative influences in particular. Much of the material revolves around one specific blogger/author who discovered that she had developed an alcohol problem due to her reliance upon it as a coping mechanism for the stress of being a parent, and her feeling that this was a growing trend.

Indeed, a review of "mommy blogs" does turn up some notable examples of the prominence of alcohol, particularly wine: here, here and here.

As an attempt to provide supporting evidence, the article also makes the claim:

The study found that the number of women arrested for impaired driving jumped 36 percent in the last decade. Women now account for almost a quarter of drunken driving arrests.

Followed by:

The report does not delve much into the current climate of drinking while parenting beyond noting that the profile of the “average” female arrestee is in her 30s, better educated and more likely than male drunken drivers (or the general population) to suffer from anxiety and/or depression. In other words, she looks like many mothers.

Have there been any studies showing a growing trend in an increase of the rate of alcohol abuse in mothers? As I expect this to vary considerably due to culture, any study showing a general increase of alcohol abuse in mothers regardless of geographic area would be acceptable (although one covering North America would be preferred, as it is the area relevant to the article).

  • @Nico I'm having trouble rephrasing the title in a way that captures what the article is implying. Do you think "Can the current trends in 'mommy social culture' be tied to an increase in alcohol abuse?" works better? – Beofett Dec 7 '11 at 17:16
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    @Zano: it's local to US in that sense, that only in US media would link a cup of vine a day with alcoholism. – vartec Dec 8 '11 at 12:50
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    @Vartec I really don't know where you are reading "a cup of wine a day = alcoholism", but that is not stated in anything I wrote, or even linked. The only mention of quantity is the blogger who stated she had more than 2 martinis (2 plus one "topped off") right before driving, then woke up with a hangover. Admittedly, this does not sound like an alcoholic to me (in my limited experience, most alcoholics would require more before a hangover), but then, that is part of why I am skeptical of the claim. – Beofett Dec 8 '11 at 13:01
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    let us continue this discussion in chat – Beofett Dec 8 '11 at 13:46
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    Alcohol abuse is any continued use of alcohol despite negative consequences; the quantity does not matter. If one glass of wine is enough to give you a hangover, and you feel the psychological need to drink a glass of wine a day, then that's alcohol abuse. The term for imbibing massive quantities of alcohol is binge drinking, and that's not even alcohol abuse, if it happens in isolation. (Medical alcoholism is something else entirely as well.) – user792 Dec 8 '11 at 14:42
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Let's consider the article carefully.

First let's note that the article is in the Lifestyle section. Such articles are not expected to be up to the journalistic standards of the news section of a newspaper. They are essentially entertainment.

The article states several things as 'fact' without backing them up in any way. Phrases like "modern parents’ embrace of wine-accompanied playdates" are stated without backup, except for abstract references to Facebook and Twitter postings (the links behind those words just go to the homepage of the service - don't bother following them).

The bulk of the article deals exclusively with the writings of Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. Wilder-Taylor describes herself as "writer and comedian", and her only publications are books of humour (ironically humour related to parenting). She appears in this article because of her decision to come out as an alcoholic parent, and because she collects stores from other alcoholic parents on her blog.

My point here is that everything we have seen is anecdotal. Wilder-Taylor appears to be an intelligent, honest, responsible person doing a great job in recounting the dangers of alcoholism, especially while parenting. But nothing she has written in any way indicates that alcoholism (or even drinking) among parents is rising. To her, and plenty of others, it is a significant problem, and she is entirely right to talk about it. But we can't assume that the issue is on the rise just because of that. Wilder-Taylor certainly implies that her alcoholic intake was increased by the 'mommy' events she attended, and that may well be true in her case. Other people may find that work, or sporting events, or loneliness, are their trigger.

As a final point, the one scientific study quoted looks at the rise of drink-driving convictions among women, but says nothing whatsoever about the parental status of those women.

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    @Sklivvz: it is correct answer to this particular question (which IMHO isn't notable claim in the first place). – vartec Dec 9 '11 at 9:42
  • indeed, he references his answer which consists of mentioning the lack of references in the claim by linking to the claim. – jwenting Dec 9 '11 at 12:38
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    While I agree that the evidence in the article is not convincing, if lack of proof in the original claim were sufficient answer, there would be no point to this site in the first place. The actual claim could be easily debunked with statistics, if it is based on a false premise. Absence of evidence is absence of evidence, not proof. If pointing out a claim was based strictly on "anecdotal" evidence, this question and many others would be offtopic. – Beofett Dec 9 '11 at 16:10
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    I concur with @Beofett. This is not an answer. It's a good argument in favor of being skeptical of the claim being made, but it does not actually answer the question. – Borror0 Dec 9 '11 at 19:52

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