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Mommy Juice

How often do you say or hear someone else say, “I need a drink?” Perhaps this ‘need’ stems from a stressful day or week at work. Maybe your spouse has pushed all your buttons. And sometimes we blame our kids.

Now, parenting is hard. This is not up for debate. I have two pretty great kids who I absolutely adore. That being said, there are days where I would let them go live with their grandparents without a second thought. Or maybe even with a stranger, if they were really pushing me that day. On those days, it is so tempting to cap off the day with a glass of wine, maybe two.

What concerns me is what seems to be an increase in alcohol consumption in which children—and either their perceived or real bad behavior, or even just their mere existence—are the justification. Don’t believe me? Look no further than this parenting-themed merchandise:

This rubber sippy top, just like Junior’s, let’s you and baby be drinking buddies!

Baby hit a milestone? Drink up! Did you hit a milestone? Drink again!

(Bottles are named: Teething, Walking, Baby Slept Through the Night, Tantrum, The Babysitter Cancelled, Back in Skinny Jeans, First Girls Night Out, and Date Night With Dad.)

Kids crying? This coloring book should help!

Mommy sure is dull when she’s not three sheets to the wind.

Then there’s my personal favorite, “I’m the reason my mommy drinks.”

To be fair, an equal amount of “why Daddy drinks” items and apparel can also be found online. I’m highlighting the items themed to moms because, as a mother, they were what resonated with me deepest.

I know, these items are supposed to be funny. And I get that they are intended to read with sarcasm and sass. No, they are not meant to ACTUALLY blame a child for their drinking. But these are jokes made at the child’s expense. And the cost is far higher than most might imagine.

Early experimentation, a parent’s misuse of a substance, and easy accessibility are some of the risk factors for addiction. And while exposure to risk factors do not guarantee that a child will end up developing a substance use disorder, each one increases the likelihood of it happening. By normalizing drinking for parents, we normalize drinking for kids. And when we go as far as involving the kids in the drinking with items like the ones featured here, we only up the ante. What starts as a joke – a t-shirt, mommy’s sippy cup, etc. – could be the crack in the door that allows addiction its first toehold.

I ask that we think about the example we are setting, not just to our children, but fellow parents, or even those who have yet to become parents. If these items give permission in any way to use alcohol in a way that is unhealthy or risky, how funny is it really?

We teach our kids to think about their choices before they act. Shouldn’t we do the same?

Jaime Hoff is a Prevention Educator at NCADA.

Categories: Commentary

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