Warning over middle class parents' drinking habits

(35 Posts)
SESthebrave Mon 08-Oct-12 19:33:01

Just saw this

Do you think this is a real issue?
I have to say I see a lot of twitter and FB comments about having a beer or some wine once the children are in bed but does it really cause problems?
Is it a symptom of society today where stress levels run high from trying to be all things to all people and cram so much into life?

Just wondered what other people think.

wintera Mon 08-Oct-12 21:08:00

I am the same as you, in that I see so many status updates nearly every day from friends regarding alcohol. I find myself constantly amazed at how much people drink in their daily lives.

Lots of them seem to crack open a bottle as soon as the kids are in bed. My main worry would be 'what if something happens in the night?'. What I mean is, what if one of your children became ill etc. You need to have your wits about you really.

Its no problem if people are having a glass of wine of a night, or having one with their eve meal etc but lots of people seem to polish a bottle off and some also have spirits of an eve too. I don't drink much at all so I must admit, it is something that I have noticed on Facebook.

SESthebrave Mon 08-Oct-12 21:49:35

I've not really drunk v much at all for the last 5 years between ttc, being pg and BFing so it's a bit alien to me. I think you're right that the odd glass isn't a problem and I can kind of empathise with the "phew the children are asleep, time for me now".
I guess it's also easy for the units to add up without seeming that you're drinking very much.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Oct-12 09:14:31

Having lost a very good friend to liver failure as a result of her nightly few glasses of wine habit a few years ago I don't think excessive drinking should ever be taken lightly, even if the excuse is that it is done to relax. My friend wasn't an alcoholic and the liver damage was not apparent until it was too late. She left two teenage DDs. Anything that makes others decide to put the kettle on rather than get out the corkscrew every time is worth highlighting

cogito that is terrifying. I made the decision this morning to try and cut down (I drink 1-2 bottles every other night) but that has really made me think. So sorry about your friend sad

Wolfiefan Tue 09-Oct-12 09:20:42

Drinking every day can not be healthy. I agree with the post which said what if your kids needed you in the night. I admit to needing time to relax once my kids are in bed. I have a cup of coffee once the toddler goes to sleep. I might read, knit or have a hot choc. Surely alcohol isn't the best/only way to unwind. If you can't unwind without it then I'd say you have a problem.
My dad was an alcoholic. I'm never going to be. Perhaps that colours my outlook. If so then I can live with that. I like the odd drink. Once or twice a week (a glass or two) is lovely. I can happily go without. Suits me!

SESthebrave Tue 09-Oct-12 09:36:36

I agree that it's good to unwind but surely alcohol is neither the only way or the best way.

cogito - that is truly awful sad It shows that alcohol problems are not just in those obviously alcoholic.

Melody - good for you!

Wolfiefan - my dad is an alcoholic too and I wondered if that was clouding my view point as I really don't get why people want to get drunk, unless to block depression. Have the odd drink because you enjoy the taste but why else?

dilys4trevor Tue 09-Oct-12 09:42:55

Actually, there is nothing at all wrong with a drink every day, Wolfiefan

What is wrong is when someone is drinking 3 glasses of wine (or equiv) every night, taking them over the 14 units (or whatever it is) and beyond.

One glass of wine every night of your life will do no harm at all. It is when that drifts into a couple of glasses a night, plus a bit more at weekends etc. I noticed recently that I was having two glasses a night and waking up a bit dehydrated and not sleeping so well. So I've stopped. I'm quite a moorish person so it is best for me to abstain totally most days and maybe have one glass on a Friday.

I can see how Mums and Dads can slip into heavy-ish drinking. You rarely go out and you don't get drunk, so how can you be a heavy drinker? Those couple of glasses are so easy to put away without thinking. I agree with some of the findings around interactions with youngest child being poorer as a result. A couple of times on special occasions with friends and all their kids, I have had two or three glasses in the afternoon and it changes how I am with the kids. It's relatively rare but I don't feel good about it. And you do need your wits about you - whatever the time of day, I agree.

I remember as a child wondering at parties why adults changed a bit during the course of the evening. I find it really depressing that my kids might have that wonder themselves.

flatpackhamster Tue 09-Oct-12 09:48:21

I think it's a load of old flannel.

First, the survey covers too few people to be statistically useful. 575 people is totally inadequate.

Secondly, they used an online survey - self-selecting - through NetMums. That data is useless for research purposes. And their 'case study' section was 6 people.

Thirdly, this 'charity' is 80% dependent on state grants for its income. So the finding that 'more intervention is needed' is hardly a finding. Would it really find anything else in its research?

This report is yet another piece of scaremongering nonsense. And inevitably the BBC picks it up, because they love this sort of stuff.

Some of their findings are reasonably sensible but some are nonsense. 'Alcohol awareness' sessions, more warnings on packaging about the 'dangers' of drinking, more money for more campaigns. People drink because they like to, and no amount of stupid, bullying, boring campaign will stop that.

SESthebrave Tue 09-Oct-12 09:57:18

Flatpackhamster - I take your point about the robustness of the survey but surely educating and campaigning can only help. It can't make things worse! I believe alcohol misuse to be a very real issue. The majority of people I know have a friend or family member affected by it. Educating and campaigning helped reduce smoking rates eventually. Do you not think the same can happen with alcohol?

dilys4trevor Tue 09-Oct-12 10:02:25

Flatpackhamster - I hadn't realised any of this (skim reading!). Sounds like the most invalid survey ever.

I do agree though that parents probably rely on booze to unwind. I include myself in that, but I usually go through stages and never more than 3 glasses max a night in a bad week (and then I'm back to nothing or one).

About 3 times a year I go on a night out and then I might accidentally get rat-bummed

flatpackhamster Tue 09-Oct-12 10:28:51


The report is deliberately conflating the consumption of alcohol with alcohol abuse. It's a shoddy tactic used all the time by the prohibitionist movement.

I don't think people should - or will - stop drinking, and I don't accept that campaigns are either a legitimate or effective tool to alter behaviour.. I'm tired of the continual treatment of functioning adults as imbeciles who need to be told how to live. Let people make their own choices and stop patronising them.

crazygracieuk Tue 09-Oct-12 10:33:24

I think there are middle class people who abuse alcohol but think that they are nothing like lower class drunks that they see on Jeremy Kyle, Road Wars etc and that they are able to keep a job so they are fine.

Campaigns etc are a waste of time. I think that making it pricier like in Scandinavian countries might have a small effect but people who want to drink will do so regardless.

annatanner Tue 09-Oct-12 11:07:53

I think it is a problem and thanks for posting about it. I noticed the three empty wine bottles we put out last week. DH rarely drinks at all, so bar having a friend over for dinner one night, it struck me - and forcibly - that I had drunk most of the contents. It gave me quite a start as, since I have a quiet social life, I don't consider myself a big drinker. Have noticed that in the last months I'd been having two glasses of red wine most nights with dinner but am limiting it to one or none on the weekdays now. I have a stressful job and travel a lot but it's no excuse. Spending a lot of time in a country where a good Barolo can cost just a few euro does not help either. Perhaps we supposedly middle-class Mums think we're fine as long as we're relaxed, and having our treat, not drunk, or even 'merry'. Must say though those glasses have never affected my parenting. If DH is away and I'm on my own with the kids I wouldn't drink at all. Just in case....But I'm certainly being mindful now of how of much I'm imbibing because as other posters have said so well, those units can and do add up. We women should talk more about this. It's important.

AngryFeet Tue 09-Oct-12 11:15:34

Actually i think it can easily become a problem. It did for me and i stopped drinking last week as i waa becoming concerned about myself. It has been building up for a couple of years but i was drinking at least 4 units most nights. I stopped getting hangovers so think i was getting to used to it.

SESthebrave Tue 09-Oct-12 12:08:50


I accept on reflection that the report isn't the best in the way it's written and compiled however I do think there is an issue worth highlighting.

I'm not a prohibitionist - I'd be a hypocrite if I was! People shouldn't be told to stop drinking but should be educated as to the effects on their health if large quantities are consumed. The sad story of cogito's friend illustrates this.

Ciske Tue 09-Oct-12 12:21:01

The main survey was done on a dedicated survey website, I assume the netmums data was a supporting survey.

If you dig into this (and I did yesterday, along with a lot of other people as this was posted yesterday on MN as well), you'll find it's all a bunch of figure juggling with some scare stories.

The survey results show that most parents reduce their drinking post kids. Only 7% continue to drink daily. No questions were asked if this daily drinking was done in front of the kids, or if it was one glass or a full bottle, so we don't know if it amounts to excessive drinking. It was just a question about frequency.

62% of parents said their alcohol habits had no negative impact on the kids - which is fair enough, as it also says 70% of parents drink less than a few times a week. However, the charity makes a big deal out of and seems to think it puts 'parents' in denial about their drinking.

As to the class impact: the figures show that MC parents are more likely to drink daily (11% in MC, vs. 3% in Working Class), however, it also showed that MC drink less on average vs. working class (I believe it was 8 units a week vs. 10 units, or something like that). What does that tell us? Nothing, I would say, but the charity makes a huge deal out of this.

Then there is pages and pages of stats and case studies about the negative impact of alcoholism on kids, which we all know about and agree with. It's the stats leading up to that which are just rubbish.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics!

TooMuchRain Tue 09-Oct-12 12:28:53

Thanks Ciske and Flatpack for actually looking at the survey - I hate these 'fluff' pieces that the media run with because it saves them having to employ real journalists to work on features.

halloweeneyqueeney Tue 09-Oct-12 12:34:40

I think its a problem

a lot of people defend it by saying a glass or two doesn't affect them - that just means they're drinking so much they're building up their tolerance OR their ability to be functional alcoholics

I see it on facebook all the time : ironing done, glass of wine for me, gardening done, now for glass of wine...

its not a problem so long as its wine or posh cider seems to be the popular opinion hmm

THEY think they're fine, but I notice their agitation if they come round and you haven't opened a bottle yet

flatpackhamster Tue 09-Oct-12 18:39:04



I accept on reflection that the report isn't the best in the way it's written and compiled however I do think there is an issue worth highlighting.

I'm not a prohibitionist - I'd be a hypocrite if I was! People shouldn't be told to stop drinking but should be educated as to the effects on their health if large quantities are consumed. The sad story of cogito's friend illustrates this.

People know what drink does to them. The drinking masks other issues. The drink wasn't the problem for poor Cogito's friend. There are underlying psychological issues. I know of a policeman who lost 3 colleagues in a terrible road crash. He died of cirrhosis, because the stress was too much and he was drinking a bottle of whisky a day.

Targetting the drink isn't the solution here. The solution is easily accessible mental healthcare. I've become convinced over the last 2 or 3 years that the primary failure of the NHS is the treatment of all illnesses as physical, not mental.

clam Tue 09-Oct-12 18:54:46


CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Oct-12 21:28:02

Errmm... the drink was precisely the problem for my friend. One minute she was like everyone else having a few too many glasses of wine every night... the next she's gone. The popular myth is that you have to be a George Best style raging dipsomaniac to suffer serious liver damage. That's simply not true.

clam Tue 09-Oct-12 22:48:49

Unless there were underlying health issues. That possibility can often cloud debates like this.

BlingLoving Wed 10-Oct-12 11:41:03

This report really annoyed me and I've been thinking about it since yesterday when I first saw this thread. I haven't even done the deep diving into the report that other posters have but noticed that the article itself is so weak its laughable. They refer to impacting parenting but at no point is there a mention of how or an example of what the negative impact might be. The discussion around amounts drunk are so vague as to be completely useless.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that habitual heavy drinking that impacts your behaviour or your physical response is bad, but this scaremongering article seems to suggest that a small glass of wine in the evening is the same. And it's so clearly not.

DH has just stopped his second cup of coffee in the morning. Because he found that the second cup made him jumpy and twitchy and he didn't like it and he didn't like that it made him more likely to be irritable with DS. When DS was little, I stopped drinking at all in the evening because I found that because I was so tired all the time, even just one glass made it that much harder for me to get up to go to him in the evening. Currently, I'm drinking nothing as I'm trying to lose weight. Previously, I was regularly drinking a glass of wine a night. I know myself and my body and I was fine.

GooseyLoosey Wed 10-Oct-12 11:46:21

I do suspect a lot of people drink a little every night to unwind without noticing how much they drink overall.

I too noticed that my one glass of wine often became two and therefore stopped most of my mid-week drinking. Sadly what then happened was that dh had more of the bottle to himself and it was startling when we sat down and worked out how much the amounted to. We have recently addressed this by buying low-alcohol wine and beer. This has move to zero alcohol beer now in the week and is working well. DH feels healthier as a result.

MmBovary Thu 11-Oct-12 13:42:19

I've been having terrible arguments with my husband about his drinking for years. He usually drinks a bottle of wine or more - or its equivalent in beer, spirits etc..., nearly every evening, quantities vary so it's hard to establish a definite pattern. He's not considered an alcoholic to this country's standards because there are millions of people who live like that, and because as long as you hold your job, are not violent or abusive, and don't drink in the morning, everything is OK. Well, it's not.

He's not violent or abusive towards me or the children. He goes to work every day and has a good job. However, I can see his mood swings especially in the mornings. He's always tired, often grumpy, just not the best of personalities to have around. Now and again he's quite drunk and gets plain nasty and argumentative, but as I said, always within the limits that it will not be considered abuse or violence. In fact, I fear I'm the one who can get so frustrasted and angry at this situation that I will lose it one day.

I often think I cannot live with him anymore and that eventually we will have to split up because of this habit. I can see so clearly he's got a problem but he refuses to admit it. It's such a shame because it's detroying our quality of life over the years and it's definitely killing the person he used to be.

wuggly Thu 11-Oct-12 18:24:13

I work with groups of people who misuse alcohol.many of them drink to relax or be sociable. But alcohol is damaging, it's corrosive to the system and strips the soft membrane from the mouth throat, gullet and stomach leaving you open to all sorts of problems. because it's legal and society promotes it everyone thinks it's fine, but it's harmful to every part of the body,it's carried in the blood, so everywhere your blood goes. It takes a mans healthy liver 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol and a womens 1.5 hours. that's just an average , there are many variables that will mean it's longer. find something else to relax you at the end of a hard day, my groups are filled with people who just had the odd glass or two, and then another. before you realise whats happened the ONLY thing that relaxes you is alcohol

wuggly Thu 11-Oct-12 18:32:07

for mme bovary.if he is drinking to that extent then he is dependant on alcohol, and there will be no time during the day when there is no alcohol in his blood stream. the picture you describe WOULD be considered emotional abuse. and you and the children will be very affected by it. I can understand your frustration and anger, but only he can stop this, and you are not responsible for what is happening. alcohol will be affecting his moods as well as impacting on his health, and your right, he is not the person he used to be, alcohol is highly addictive, and he won't find it easy to cut down.

princessbuba Thu 11-Oct-12 18:43:31

I agree with BlingLoving and find Ciske's comments very informative. I find the report mostly just irritating. I don't think the abuse of alcohol should be taken lightly, and I recognise there are some stories on this thread that are about this. BUT, and this is what I find irritating, I don't accept that my glass of wine of an evening impacts my parenting.

I have to admit that despite having an incredibly quiet social life, I possibly drink almost as much now as I did in my 20s. A different type of drinking. I was never a binge drinker, but, I didn't drink at home and I tended to drink more than the recommended amount when I was out. Very seldom a staggering home drunk, but... Now I drink little but probably more often and it is at home.

I do not need it to relax, I just like to drink a glass of wine and I am not in denial. I stopped smoking 6 years ago when I was pregnant, I no longer go clubbing, I eat healthily and I exercise regularly. I no longer go out to work in order to raise my children, and a glass of wine (or a G&T or whatever your tipple) at home with my meal, while I cook or as I relax with the hubby is about passing from kids time into adult time. And it is a pleasure. Really it is nothing more.

And silly scaremongering reports should stop being published making parents feel guilty for living their lives. We are parents but we don't stop being the people we were prior to children. Some of us like a drink and some don't. Some like to garden, some like to go shopping. Some like... well you get the idea, I could go on and on. There is not some perfect parent that we all have to be and I'm a bit sick of the institutionally sponsored guilt trips thanks.

Northernlurkerisbehindyouboo Thu 11-Oct-12 18:44:20

I think that a lot of people do not realise how harmful even what seems to be modest consumption is - because it isn't in fact that modest at all. Years and years ago I attended a seminar as a Students Union representative. There was a drugs and alcohol nurse there who said they saw a lot of people who weren't sitting on the street swigging cider. They were going to the supermarket, filling the trolley with 'good' wine and taking it home. So far, so good - but then when asked when they would be back at the shop doing the same thing again - it was a day or two later.................

MmBovary Fri 12-Oct-12 11:13:44

Thanks, wuggly, for your comments. You seem to be getting where I'm coming from. It's a very difficult situation, as I said, because it's socially and culturally accepted, and me not accepting it as normal makes me look as if I had the problem, not him. That's what I find most frustrating about alcohol.

You can drink a lot and not be considered to have a problem but if it infuriates you to see people so dependant on an socially accepted drug, then you are the one who's got issues.

Having a glass of wine here and there with a meal is not a problem, but sitting in front of the TV every night and going through a bottle of wine or more nearly every single evening of your life is.

BlingLoving Fri 12-Oct-12 11:57:24

What mmbovary is describing is not typical middle class drinking and I think most people would agree her dh has a problem.

But part of my frustration is this inability to differentiate between the person drinking a bottle a night or going to the supermarket to top up every two days and the vast bulk of us who drink a glass a night and get through a bottle a week.

It's the same problem with pregnancy. No kne disputes that excessive drinking is bad for baby and every dr I have ever spoken with agrees that the odd glass definitely does no harm but there is an inability from the bulk of population to see the difference v

juneau Fri 12-Oct-12 17:37:12

I have no idea what my friends do in the privacy of their own homes and I never see status updates on FB about drinking, so either my friends don't drink that much or they keep quiet about it!

I hardly drink at all these days, which surprises me as I used to drink FAR too much in my 20s and come from a family of people who consider drinking to be an essential part of socialising. Now when I see my family it just depresses me how much they drink - but I'm talking about my parents generation really - the baby boomers in their 60s and 70s. They have a far worse problem than our generation IMO. This article doesn't surprise me at all: www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19913431

juneau Fri 12-Oct-12 17:48:48

MmBovary - you could've been describing my stepdad. They're called 'functioning' alcoholics. He was a family doctor. I'm so glad he's retired. It worried me to death that he was treating people when he was totally hungover and possibly still drunk. He's much worse now that he doesn't have to get up and go to work and he's ruined their social life by being drunk and offending almost everyone they know. They really can't go anywhere any more sad

nepkoztarsasag Fri 12-Oct-12 23:42:39

This is the only time in my life I have ever found myself agreeing with flatpackhamster.

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