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Purchasing a new family vehicle is no small undertaking. It’s a significant investment and one that impacts your family’s quality of life. This year, automobile manufacturers brought their A-game to the family table with a variety of cars, trucks, and SUVs designed to make family time on the road safer and parents’ lives easier. Many of the new 2017/2018 models come loaded with life-saving features and technology designed to help Mom and Dad so everyone can enjoy the ride.


The following are some of the features you should know about before buying your next automobile.

Safety features

Safety is at the top of every parent’s list. These features – some old and some new – have the ability stop a collision or minimize the impact when one occurs.

Airbag weight sensors

Airbags are the first thing most parents think of when it comes to automobile safety, but they pose a risk for young children. The weight sensors solve this conundrum by determining the size and age of the front passenger seat’s occupant. It only deploys the airbag if an adult is riding shotgun during a collision.

Blind spot monitors and cross-traffic alert

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than changing lanes in traffic with a car full of kids. The blind spot monitor detects vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes and warns the driver so they can maneuver with confidence.

Lane departure alert

Tired or distracted drivers receive an alert when they begin to leave their lane without using the turn signal in advance. Some versions of this feature will apply corrective steering.

Braking technology and collision alert

Any feature that helps minimize the chances of getting in a wreck is a bonus, but did you know that some vehicles can stop themselves when they sense an impending collision? Low-speed forward automatic braking and brake assist technology automatically apply the brakes when it detects imminent impact.

Another feature that gives you a chance to act is forward collision alert, which provides audible and visual signals to let you know that a collision may be approaching.

Safety alert seat

While most kids are angels in the car, there is the occasional screaming or crying fit that takes place. If you’re unable to hear your alerts or too distracted to see the visual aid, a safety alert seat comes in handy. These seats provide haptic feedback when activated so you can feel the alert.

Post-collision braking system

Designed on the premise that a collision consists of a series of events that follow the initial impact, automatic post-collision braking applies the brakes when it detects the first impact. This reduces the energy and damage that takes place after.

Park assist features

From parallel parking to backing in and out of perpendicular parking spaces, park assist features make bringing your ride to a stop easy. With young kids aboard, sometimes you need to get out of the car fast!

Front and rear park assist activates at speeds below five miles per hour. It uses ultrasonic sensors mounted on the front and rear bumpers to detect nearby objects (up to four feet from the front bumper and up to eight feet from the rear). It delivers distance-to-object alerts on the dashboard monitor via seat pulses and with a beeping sound.

When nearing an object, the bars in front or back of a small car icon on the monitor illuminate and change from yellow to amber to red to indicate distance (red being the least distance). The system also delivers seat pulses and beeps when the vehicle is in the “close zone,” which is one foot from the front and two feet from the back.

Park assist with rear vision camera

When equipped with both park assist and a rear vision camera, a warning triangle appears on the vehicle’s screen revealing the object’s location and distance.

Rear seat reminder

Weary parents get forgetful, and that’s why the rear seat reminder is an ideal feature in every family’s vehicle. Never forget a bag of groceries or car seat again. This reminder creates an audible and visible alert that reads “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat,” encouraging the driver to look back.

Make-life-easier features

Safety always comes first when it comes to making big purchases, but every parent deserves a little help. The following features make life easier for Mom and Dad in the driveway and on the road.

Keyless unlock

While this may not be one of the newest features on the market, for most parents it’s a must. Whether you are hauling groceries, clothes, or kids from the car to the house or vice versa, chances are your hands aren’t free. Keyless unlock via exterior door handles with extended range remote keyless entry means you won’t need to set stuff down or take extra trips to get into or secure your vehicle.

Push button start

No more digging in your purse, man bag, or pockets for the key, just push a button and go. Simple but wonderful – it’s the little things that count.

App-connect

Use your phone to lock and unlock your automobile, start the engine, check your tire pressure, and perform diagnostics from anywhere. This feature is a dream come true for multi-taskers. That’s right, some new models come with the ability to stay connected to your mobile device via an app – a convenience that also offers peace of mind.

Entertainment packages

While keeping the kids unplugged as much as possible is a goal that most parents try to meet, long rides and road trips are the perfect excuses for some screen time and great tunes. Many of the newest automobiles come equipped with entertainment packages that have everything from rear seat DVD/Blu-Ray players to wireless headphones so your kids can watch their favorite flick while you enjoy singing along to your favorite band.

4G Wi-Fi hotspot

In the case of emergency or when on-call at work, it’s nice to know you’re connected. Lots of new vehicles come with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot so you never have to worry about missing that important message.

OnStar (or similar net-connected services)

This feature offers parents all kinds of peace of mind. Many new automobiles come with the OnStar button, giving drivers instant access to a suite of services including 24/7 emergency response, security, turn-by-turn navigation, Wi-Fi, and diagnostics.

Choose your ride

Vehicles have come a long way and now you know some of the life-saving (and life-enhancing) features to look for when shopping for your next automobile. The following are some of the newest wheels to hit the road. While each is different from the other, they’re all designed with families in mind. Discover the one fits your unique needs the best.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica (Hybrid)

If your clan has grown in numbers or is into activities that demand travel and hauling gear, this minivan is your dream come true. It is the only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market, so you can feel good about your time on the road. The Pacifica’s spacious interior gives everyone room to relax and the fixed glass pane over the third-row seating area means even the back passengers stay comfortable for long periods of time.

Additionally, the Pacifica comes with the following features:|

  • Park assist with camera
  • Cruise control with stop and hold to maintain the distance from other vehicles and bring itself to a controlled stop in set circumstances
  • Forward collision warning
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • U-Connect theater entertainment system
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Remote start

The Chrysler Hybrid Pacifica starts at $41,995.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

This vehicle doesn’t go on sale until the fall, but it’s worth the wait. Buick pulled out all of the stops in an effort to exceed the needs of the modern family with this mid-sized SUV. The three rows of seating mean you can haul your kids and their friends around town. A packed vehicle doesn’t have to mean stale air as this ride comes equipped with an ionizer that cleans the air by attracting airborne contaminants and reducing bacteria, viruses, dust, pollen, and more, without filters or maintenance!

The Enclave’s athletic appearance is only one of its many exceptional features. It will keep your family safe and relaxed with the following:

  • Blind spot cross traffic alert
  • Safety alert seat
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Park assist
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • OnStar
  • 4G Wi-Fi hotspot

Pricing for the Buick Enclave Avenir will be announced later this year.

2017 VW Golf Alltrack

The family wagon just got rugged. The Alltrack is deceptively sleek-looking and designed to navigate rough terrains and all types of weather conditions. If your family likes the outdoors, they’ll love this ride. With a five-person capacity, plenty of cargo room, and a roof rack, you can take your family on the adventures they’ve been dreaming of. Regardless of where your passengers sit, no one misses a thing with the panoramic sunroof that tilts and slides. Road trips don’t just look better in the Alltrack, they feel better with these additional features:

  • Forward collision alert
  • Brake assist
  • Park assist with camera
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic crash notification system (automatically notifies an operator)
  • Post-collision braking system
  • App-connect
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Discover Media navigation

The VW Golf Alltrack starts at $25,850.

2017 Lexus GX 460

The Lexus GX is an SUV designed with families in mind. Its chiseled looking exterior matches the thoughtful approach to the interior design and seating arrangement. This ride comes with second-row captain’s seats, which means each of the kids (or teens) have their own space and zero reasons to complain about one another. With three rows available, this is a spacious ride packed with features including:

  • Airbag weight sensors
  • Lexus Enform Safety Connect (for roadside emergency assistance)
  • Blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Park assist
  • Collision alert (*This vehicle also has a driver attention monitor which warns you when it detects an obstacle if you are facing away from the road)
  • Dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system
  • Navigation
  • App-connect
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Added bonus feature: subscription-free weather and traffic

The Lexus GX 460 starts at $51,680.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali

Who says trucks aren’t family vehicles? The Sierra Denali is proof to the contrary and demonstrates how this type of automobile can accommodate everyone in your crew while taking care of your more rugged work and play needs. The bold-looking Sierra seats six comfortably and its spacious cab makes passengers forget that they aren’t in a car or SUV.

With a large cargo area to boot, there is plenty of room for luggage, gear, or anything at all you might want to bring along. The 2017 Sierra comes with:

  • Forward collision alert
  • Front and rear park assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Safety alert seat
  • Brake assist
  • Rear seat reminder
  • Airbag weight sensing
  • Rear seat entertainment
  • Navigation
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Remote start
  • OnStar
  • 4G Wi-Fi and built-in hotspot

The GMC Sierra Denali start as $52,605.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Orange Is the New Black star Danielle Brooks is pregnant and frustrated. The actress took to Instagram this week to lament the lack of plus-sized options for pregnant people.

"It's so hard to find some clothes to wear today....Although I get to pregnant I still can't find no clothes. It's so hard to find some clothes when you're pregnant," she sings in a lighthearted yet serious video.

"It's so hard to find cute plus size maternity fashion while pregnant, but ima push through," she captioned the clip.

Brooks has been talking a lot this week about the issues people who wear plus size clothing face not just when trying to find clothes but in simply moving through a world that does not support them.

"I feel like the world has built these invisible bullets to bully us in telling us who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to look like. And I've always had this desire to prove people wrong—to say that this body that I'm in is enough," she told SHAPE (she's on the new cover).

"Now that I'm about to be a mother, it means even more—to make sure that this human being I'm going to bring into the world knows that they are enough," she said.

Danielle Brooks is the body-positive hero we need right now. Now can someone make her some cute maternity clothes, please?

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In prior decades, body image issues usually didn't hit the scene until kids reached adolescence. But thanks to social media, and our culture's relentless pursuit of thinness, we now have to find creative ways to teach young children how to develop healthy body images.

Before I dive into some practical tips to help kids improve body image, I want to first diminish any shame that you might be feeling if you have body issues of your own. It's so important to remember that you downloaded every internal message from somewhere else. Of course, it's critical to work on your own issues, but it's also important to know it is not your fault that you developed them in the first place!

So, whether you are struggling with your own body image, or you love your body, here are some tools to help your child feel better about the precious body he or she lives in:

1. Break the spell

How do you know if your child has a bad body image? Perhaps they've begun making negative comments about their size or shape. Maybe they are comparing their body to others. Maybe they are avoiding foods or activities they once enjoyed because they feel uncomfortable about their body.

Often the most common response a parent has is to reassure their child that they are “fine," or “beautiful" or “perfect." And while there is certainly nothing wrong with some reassurance, it simply may not be enough to overpower the cultural messages kids are surrounded by. Reassure them that they are perfect just the way they are.

2. Unkind mind, kind mind and quiet mind

This little menu of options encourages kids to identify and differentiate between three different thinking states within themselves. I refer to them as “mind moods." Try teaching your child about these three states of mind and brainstorming examples of each. For example, unkind mind = “I hate my thighs." Kind mind = “I love singing." Quiet mind = Peacefully resting or playing.

This will raise their awareness of their thoughts and help them to choose their mind moods more consciously. As they learn to turn up the volume of their kind minds and spend more time in their quiet minds, they begin to feel more present and peaceful.

Once you have helped your child identify their unkind mind as a distinct voice, they can then try on some different responses and see which ones help bring them some relief. Try asking them to write or say all the messages their unkind mind is saying and practicing using strong, soft, silly or silent responses. Kids can learn that their unkind mind is not all of who they are, and that it doesn't have to run the show.

3. Get to the root

This concept helps kids discover what triggers their body dissatisfaction. You can help your child by asking questions or taking guesses about what might have started their bad body image. For example, I helped one 7-year old get to the root of her body obsession by noticing it started when there was a death in her family. Right around that time, her best friend started talking about dieting, so she latched onto food obsession as a distracting coping tool.

Once we uncovered this, she was able to learn about healthy grieving and truly healthy eating (as opposed to what the diet culture deems as healthy—which can actually be unhealthy).

4. Mind movies vs. really real

Try asking your child to show you some things around them that are real (i.e. things they can see, touch or hear). Then ask them if they can show you one single thought in their minds. You can playfully challenge them to take a thought out of their head and show it to you or fold it up and put it in their pocket. This tool teaches kids how to be more present.

Of course, they might use their imagination to do this, but with some finesse, you can teach your child to distinguish between the mind movies that cause them stress and the really real things around them. This is an immensely helpful tool that will not only help them with body image (since body image is one long mind movie) but will also improve the quality of their lives in general.

5. Dog talk and cat chat

Many kids cannot relate to the concept of being kind to themselves but ask a child how they feel about their favorite pet, and a doorway to their compassion, kindness and unconditional acceptance opens. For non-pet lovers, you can ask your child to imagine how they would speak to a baby or their best friend.

Dog talk and cat chat can help teach youngsters how to take the loving words and tones they use toward a beloved pet, and direct these sentiments toward themselves and their bodies.

6. Do an internal upgrade

In addition to helping your child combat the messages they receive out in the world, you can also work on the messages they get in your home. Again, if you struggle with body image, it is not your fault, but you can work on healing—and not only will you feel more peace, but your child will benefit as well.

To the best of your ability, refrain from talking about foods as “good" or “bad." Refrain from making negative comments about your (or anyone else's) weight or looks. Refrain from praising someone (or yourself) for weight loss.

Practice welcoming your child's tears and anger without trying to change their feelings before they are ready. Practice eating all food groups in moderation. Foster a positive, grateful attitude about your body.

May you and your child feel comfortable in your bodies, eat all foods in moderation, move and rest in ways that feel good, and find abundant sweetness and fulfillment in life.

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Learn + Play

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

Here are 21 questions to dig deeper into your marriage after a long day—see where they take you!

  1. Did you listen to anything interesting today?
  2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?
  3. How much coffee did you drink today?
  4. Will you remember any specific part of today a year from now? Five years?
  5. Did you take any photos today? What did you photograph?
  6. What app did you open most today?
  7. How can I make your day easier in five minutes?
  8. If we were leaving for vacation tonight, where do you wish we would be heading?
  9. If you won $500 and had to spend it on yourself today, what would you buy?
  10. If your day was turned into a movie, who would you cast?
  11. What did you say today that you could have never expected to come out of your mouth?
  12. What did you do to take care of yourself today?
  13. When did you feel appreciated today?
  14. If you could guarantee one thing for tomorrow what would it be?
  15. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  16. What made you laugh today?
  17. Imagine committing the next year to learning one thing in your spare time. What would it be?
  18. Did you give anyone side-eye today? Why?
  19. What do you wish you did more of today?
  20. What do you wish you did less of today?
  21. Are you even listening to me right now?

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Love + Village

Alexis Ohanian has made a lot of important decisions in his life. The decision to co-found Reddit is a pretty big one. So was marrying Serena Williams. But right up there with changing internet culture and making a commitment to his partner, the venture capitalist lists taking time off after his daughter's birth as a significant, life-changing choice.

"Before Olympia was born, I had never thought much about paternity leave and, to be honest, Reddit's company policy was not my idea. Our vice president of people and culture, Katelin Holloway, brought it up to me in a meeting and it sounded O.K., so why not?" Ohanian writes in an op-ed for New York Times Parenting.

He continues: "Then came Olympia, after near-fatal complications forced my wife, Serena, to undergo an emergency C-section. Serena spent days in recovery fighting for her life against pulmonary embolisms. When we came home with our baby girl, Serena had a hole in her abdomen that needed bandage changes daily. She was on medication. She couldn't walk."

The experience changed the way Ohanian viewed paternity leave. It was no longer something that just sounded like a good thing, it was a necessary thing for his family. It was crucial that he take it and now he is advocating for more fathers to be able to. In his piece for the NYT Ohanian points out something that Motherly has previously reported on: It is hard for fathers to take paternity leave even when their government or employer offers it.

A report from Dove Men+Care and Promundo (a global organization dedicated to gender equality) found 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands would do anything to be very involved in the early weeks and months after their child's birth or adoption, but less than 50% of fathers take as much time as they are entitled to.

Dads need paid leave, but even when they have it social pressures and unrealistic cultural expectations keep them from taking it and they choose not to take all the time they can. Ohanian wants lawmakers and business leaders to make sure that dads can take leave and he wants to help fathers choose to actually take it.

"I was able to take 16 weeks of paid leave from Reddit, and it was one of the most important decisions I've made," Ohanian previously wrote in an essay for Glamour.

Ohanian recognizes that he is privileged in a way most parents aren't.

"It helped that I was a founder and didn't have to worry about what people might say about my 'commitment' to the company, but it was incredible to be able to spend quality time with Olympia. And it was perhaps even more meaningful to be there for my wife and to adjust to this new life we created together—especially after all the complications she had during and after the birth," he wrote for Glamour.

In his NYT piece, Ohanian goes further: "I get that not every father has the flexibility to take leave without the fear that doing so could negatively impact his career. But my message to these guys is simple: Taking leave pays off, and it's continued to pay dividends for me two years later. It should be no surprise that I also encourage all of our employees to take their full leave at Initialized Capital, where I am managing partner; we recently had three dads on paid paternity leave at the same time."

The GOAT's husband is making the same points that we at Motherly make all the time. Research supports paid leave for all parents. It benefits the baby and the parents and that benefits society.

By first taking his leave and then speaking out about the ways in which it benefited his family, Ohanian is using his privileged position to de-stigmatize fathers taking leave, and advocate for more robust parental leave policies for all parents, and his influence doesn't end there. He's trying to show the world that parents shouldn't have to cut off the parent part of themselves in order to be successful in their careers.

He says that when his parental leave finished he transitioned from being a full-time dad to a "business dad."

"I'm fortunate to be my own boss, which comes with the freedoms of doing things like bringing my daughter into the office, or working remotely from virtually anywhere Serena competes. My partners at Initialized are used to seeing Olympia jump on camera—along with her doll Qai Qai—or hearing her babbling on a call. I tell them with pride, 'Olympia's at work today!' And I'll post some photos on Instagram or Twitter so my followers can see it too," Ohanian explains.

"The more we normalize this, on social media and in real life, the better, because I know this kind of dynamic makes a lot of men uncomfortable (and selfishly I want Olympia to hear me talking about start-ups!)," he says.

This is the future of family-friendly work culture. Take it from a guy who created an entire internet culture.

[A version of this post was originally published February 19, 2019. It has been updated.]

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