Alcoholic Moms: Does Drinking Hurt Your Kids?

Mommy juice. Mommy’s sippy cup. Mommy’s turn to wine. 

If you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ve likely encountered the world of mommy wine culture. It’s the T-shirts, tumblers, and Instagram posts suggesting that drinking alcohol is a normal — and even maybe mandatory — part of being a mom. 

It’s hard to say when and how American culture shifted in that direction, but by now it’s certain: The rise of mommy drinking culture has been followed by a rise in alcoholism among women. According to one recent report, for example, nearly half of the women surveyed reported an episode of binge-drinking in the last 30 days.

Of course, not all moms that drink have a problem. It’s important to remember, though, that alcohol and parenting don’t have to go hand in hand. If you’re willing to look at your relationship with alcohol, what you see might surprise you. Can you honestly say that it’s not hurting you? Can you say that it’s not hurting your kids? Are you in denial?

Take a look at these consequences many children of alcoholic moms experience. It’s worth a little honest self-exploration.

Drinking & Your Kids

Having a parent who abuses alcohol takes a toll on the emotional health of kids of all ages. Low self-esteem is one of the most common reported side effects. For example, children often report that they feel like their moms choose to drink over them. They may subconsciously believe that if they were better kids, their parents would love them enough to quit. This feeling of inadequacy can prevent your child from excelling socially, academically, and physically. Low self-esteem may also lead to drug and alcohol abuse in their future.

Another emotional problem that children experience because of our drinking is trust issues. When we are drinking more than we know is healthy, we often make promises. We promise ourselves and those around us that we are going to stop. When we don’t, our loved ones notice. 

Sometimes, drinking gets in the way of keeping other promises too, like taking our kids shopping or to the park. As a result, children of alcoholics stop believing their parents. They don’t trust that they’ll do what they say or show up when they say, which makes it harder for them to learn to trust anyone. This lack of trust can translate to unhealthy relationships or promiscuous behaviors later in life.

Anxiety also affects kids whose parents are problem drinkers. You might not realize it, but your kids know you well and they can tell when you are drunk. Even if they don’t know what it is, they feel like something’s wrong and they become anxious because of the inconsistency at home. They don’t know what to expect. They may be afraid to bring friends home or ask for help because their mom may be drunk. This anxiety may lead to problems in school or even health issues like panic attacks. That also can push your child picking up drugs or alcohol further down the line to cope. 

When Does Drinking Become a Problem?

Alcoholism is a family disease, and everyone in the family is affected by the problem drinking — even if you don’t see it. You might not even realize how your drinking is putting your kids at risk.

For example, kids of parents that struggle with problem drinking are often less involved in sports or extracurricular activities than those of non-drinkers. (It can be hard for hungover moms to make practice.) That can impact your child’s physical and emotional wellbeing. 

Problem drinking may also prevent us from providing healthy meals on a regular basis. Routine checkups with dentists or pediatricians might fall to the wayside in the haze of wine hangovers. Alcoholic moms are also less likely to stick to a bedtime routine with their little ones, which means their dental and personal hygiene may be lacking. 

Alcoholics put their children’s safety at risk in more obvious ways, as well. When alcohol is involved, we do many things that we would not normally do. We may leave our kids home alone while we run back to the convenience store or across the street to a friend’s house. Alcohol impairs our judgment and makes us forget that being home alone for even a few minutes can be too long for a young child. The same impaired judgment may cause us to drink and drive with our kids in the car.

Why to Stop Drinking

You don’t have to be an “alcoholic” to stop drinking. You also don’t have to hit rock bottom. The bottom is where you stop digging. 

If you think you might have a problem with drinking, you don’t have to wait around and see how bad things can get — for you and for your kids — before you stop. 

Even more importantly, you don’t have to make that decision alone. 

If you’re ready to take control of your life back and be the parent you know you can be, call us. At Country Road Recovery Center, we can help you find the road to recovery.