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The Safest (and Coolest!) New Car Features and 5 Fresh Rides That Have Them

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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.

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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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No kid is born a picky eater, but there are plenty who will give you a run for your money come mealtime. Whether it's a selective eating phase or simply a natural resistance to trying something new, getting your little one to try just.one.bite can be easier said than done.

But sometimes your attitude about eating can make the most impact. A 2017 study found a direct correlation between "mealtime emotional climate" (AKA, how positive meals are for parents and children) and a child's consumption of healthy food―meaning the difference between your child trying their green beans or not could depend on how positive you make the experience.

Not sure where to start?

Here are 10 positive parenting techniques that can help overcome picky eating and lead to more peaceful mealtimes for all.

1. Make them feel special.

Sometimes just knowing you have a special place at the table can help kids eat better. Create a special place setting with dishes just for them.

Try this: We love OXO's Stick & Stay plates and bowls for creating less mess at mealtime. Not only will the kids love the fun colors and designs, but the plates also come with a suction cup base that prevents little hands from knocking plates to the floor (or in your lap). Trust us—we've tried it.

2. Take off the pressure.

OXO Tot's Stick & Stay Suction Plate

Think about it: If someone kept telling you to take one more bite during lunch, how likely would you be to go along without bristling?

Try this: Instead, use the Satter Division of Responsibility of feeding, which lets parents be responsible for what, when, and where feeding happens, while the child is left responsible of how much and whether. Besides promoting a more positive environment at mealtime, this method also boosts your child's confidence and helps encourage better self-regulation of food as they get older.

3. Serve a variety.

OXO Tot's Stick & Stay Suction Divided Plate

It could be that your child is bored with the usual rotation. Keep things interesting by regularly introducing new ingredients, or reworking a familiar ingredient in a new way. The familiar setting might make your child more likely to take a bite without a struggle.

Try this: Sub in spaghetti squash with their favorite pasta sauce, or add in a new veggie to a beloved stir-fry. We love OXO's Stick & Stay Divided Plate for creating a "tasting menu" of new flavors for little ones to pick and choose or using the center spot for an appetizing dip.

4. Don't bargain or negotiate.

Many kids resist trying new foods or eating at all because it gives them a sense of control over their lives. By resisting an ingredient―even one they have tried and liked in the past―they are essentially saying, "You're not the boss of me."

Try this: Instead of resorting to bargaining tactics like, "Just take one bite!" or "You can have dessert if you try it!" lower the pressure with a neutral statement like, "This is what we're having for dinner tonight." There's no argument, so you avoid tripping their "Don't tell me what to do!" sensor.

5. Serve meals in courses.

Even adults are more likely to eat something when they're really hungry. When their tummies are rumbling, kids will usually put up less of a fight even when they're uncertain about a new ingredient.

Try this: Serve up vegetables or other new foods as an "appetizer" course. That way, you won't have to stress if they don't fill up because you can follow up with food you know they'll eat.

6. Make it a game.

The fastest way to get a toddler on board with a new idea is to make it more fun. Turn your kitchen into an episode of Top Chef and let your little one play judge.

Try this: Use each compartment of the Stick & Stay Divided Plate for a new ingredient. With each item, ask your child to tell you how the food tastes, smells, and feels, ranking each bite in order of preference. Over time, you just might be surprised to see veggies climb the leaderboard!

7. Get them involved in cooking.

You've probably noticed that toddlers love anything that is theirs―having them help with preparing their own meals gives them a sense of ownership and makes them more likely to try new ingredients.

Try this: Look for ways to get those little hands involved in the kitchen, even if it means meal prep takes a bit longer or gets a bit messier. (We also love letting them help set the table―and OXO's unbreakable plates are a great place to start!) You could even let your toddler pick the veggie course for the meal. And if your child asks to taste a raw fruit or vegetable you planned to cook, go with it! Every bite counts as training that will ultimately broaden their palate.

8. Cut out unstructured snacking.

Not surprisingly, a hungry kid is more likely to try new foods. But if your toddler had a banana and a glass of milk (or a granola bar, or a handful of popcorn, or a glass of juice) an hour before dinner, odds are they aren't feeling truly hungry and will be more likely to resist what you serve at mealtime.

Try this: Stick to a consistent eating schedule. If your child leaves the table without eating as much as you think they should, remind them once that they won't be able to eat again until X time―and make good on that promise even if they start begging for a snack before the scheduled meal.

9. Model good eating habits.

Kids may not always do what you say, but they are much more likely to follow a good example. So if you want a child who eats vegetables regularly, you should do your best to fill your own plate with produce.

Try this: Pick a new food the whole family will try in multiple ways each week. For example, if you're introducing butternut squash, serve it roasted, blended in soup, cut up in pasta, as a mash, etc.―and be sure a healthy serving ends up on your plate too.

10. Don't worry about "fixing" picky eating.

OXO Tot's Stick & Stay Suction Bowl

In most cases, children go through relatively consistent eating phases. At age two (when parents tend to notice selectiveness ramping up), growth rates have slowed and most children don't need as much food as parents might think.

Try this: Focus on keeping mealtime positive by providing children with a variety of foods in a no-pressure environment. And remember: This too shall pass. The less stress you put on eating now, the more likely they are to naturally broaden their palates as they get older.


This article was sponsored by OXO Tot. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Learn + Play

Over six million women in America struggle with infertility, and yet its a journey that can feel so isolating.

That's why we find Google's short video, "Becoming Mom," to be so powerful. Through anxiety-driven web searches, vlog clips, and calendars packed with appointments, this video gives a brief peek into the all-consuming reality of struggling with infertility.

Watch "Becoming Mom" here:


Candace Wohl, a fertility advocate featured in this video, writes of her experience:

"For seven years, Mother's Day was the worst day of the year for me. It was an observance that felt completely out of reach, yet commercially and socially it was a reminder that I couldn't escape. I wanted to be a mom, but I was having trouble becoming one."

As Candace and her husband felt their private life had been invaded by fertility specialists, they also felt that the outside world didn't understand what they were going through. So she found solidarity online.

"I found support groups, blogs and resources. I wasn't as alone as I thought—like many, I had been silent about my struggles with infertility. It's a less-than-tasty casserole of heartache, injections and surgeries, failed adoption placements and financial devastation."

Through her years of personal experience, Candace has since become an advocate for infertility awareness, and hopes that speaking up will help break down the barriers surrounding infertility. She was excited to see Google using their platform to further this message.

"I hope that this year, even one more person out there will realize they're not alone."

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We love how this video is helping to spread awareness of a struggle so many women experience, and importantly—how it highlights the virtual communities that help many women to find a path forward. It's a powerful reminder that there are others out there, typing the same fears or curiosities into a search bar.

We applaud Candace and the other brave women who shared their stories in this video. Their openness is helping to educate people and elevate the conversation surrounding infertility. 👏

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We grew up together, were in each other's weddings, and dreamed about the day we would raise our children in unison. Then, BOOM. Kids arrive, and it doesn't take long to realize that, whoa, my best friend and I have very different approaches to this parenting gig.

The odds of her letting her babies “cry it out" are about as high as me co-sleeping with mine, and by that I mean not a chance. That's not the only thing that makes us very different in terms of parenting.

I enforce strict bedtimes, while her kids are catching a 7 p.m. movie at the theater. My little ones eat most meals from a box or the freezer, and hers have palates more developed than most adults.

We're both teachers. She cries when August rolls around at the thought of leaving her kids to go back to work. Me? I'm itching for “me time" and aching for conversation with someone above the age of five.

Sure, we're both trying our best to raise happy, respectful, and kind children, but when I'm faced with a grumpy 4-year-old whose mood rivals a teenager, I choose to send her to her room for quiet time. My best friend tickles the grouchies away.

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She has endless patience while I'm nearing the end of my fraying rope by noon.

I'll never forget one day when my daughter was having an epic tantrum, and I said to my friend, exasperated, “Ugh, sometimes I just want to scream 'Shut up!'"

Her response was one of shock, her eyes wide with horror. “Jennifer!" she said, appalled.

“Of course I would never actually say that," I quickly clarified. “But c'mon, you mean to tell me you've never thought that before?"

“Never!" she replied.

Then we chuckled about how different our mindsets are.

That's the thing – it's not a secret that we're raising our kids using opposing methodologies. We know that about each other and we respect that about each other. Here's the key: there's no judging.

My friend's children are being raised with religion in the household—praying at meals and before bed, talking about God, and falling on faith to help explain many of the mysteries of the human experience. My husband and I rest pretty low on the spirituality ladder and while we have no problem explaining religious beliefs to our kids, we have no plan to incorporate religion into our family.

“Johnny included you in his bedtime prayer last night," she recently told me.

“Aww, tell him thanks," I said, “and I love him."

We don't hide things from each other or pretend to be similar in ways that we're clearly not. With such different approaches to most aspects of parenting, you'd think that it would be difficult to be friends, but the opposite is true. Honesty, empathy, and support go far in maintaining a lasting friendship.

In a culture that likes to pit moms against each other simply because of differing choices, our story proves that it doesn't have to be that way.

Many of our conversations start with: “I know you think I'm crazy, but…" Sometimes when one of us (usually me) needs to vent about an issue with our child, the other one just listens and does her best to offer advice even if it's not something that we would do personally.

In the end, it comes down to this: There's no right way to be a mom. No one hands out gold star stickers to the moms who are doing things “this" way, rather than “that" way.

So, is it possible to be best friends with a mom who has polar opposite parenting styles as me? The answer is yes. She may be the June Cleaver to my Rosanne Barr, but what can I say? It just works.

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Love + Village

Sure being a mom of three totally rocks, but it comes with its fair share of demands, too. Singer-turned-lifestyle-entrepreneur, Jessica Simpson is learning this first hand, as she recently admitted to People that mothering three children can be difficult.

"Three is challenging," says Simpson. "We are trying to get into the groove and make sure all three kids are getting equal attention … it's more than a full-time job right now."

Simpson is a mom to daughter 6-year-old Maxwell Drew, 5-year-old son Ace Knut and little Birdie Mae who is just 5 weeks old. Birdie was born via C-section on March 19, and Simpson admitted on Instagram that "recovering from a C-section is no joke!"

While in the recovery period, the new mom of three is determined to live in the moment and enjoy hugging her new baby. "We are trying our best to be as present as possible and enjoy every part of having a newborn," she says. "We know how fast the time goes and how precious it is."

But being a mom to multiples can often be overwhelming. A recent survey found that motherhood isn't just equivalent to a full-time job, but actually equivalent to working 2.5 jobs. And we know three kids is one of the hardest ratios for moms: A survey found moms of four or more are less stressed than moms with fewer kids, but moms of three are way more stressed than moms of two.

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Simspon is totally feeling this.

She tells People: "The other night, all three kids were crying at the same time, so I just joined in!" She's joking about it, but feelings of sadness after a new baby are not a laughing matter. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), postpartum depression impacts 15 to 20% of pregnant and postpartum mothers. (If you're feeling overwhelmed, seek help, mama)

No matter how many kids you have, the fact is that statistically, parents are more stressed than people who don't have kids. It makes sense. We have less free time and more responsibilities, but it is so worth it. And it won't feel like a full-time job forever.

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News

I've always felt a weird kinship with Prince Harry. We are two different races (he's white, and I'm an African American), so we're definitely not related, and technically, I've never met him, but because my mother was pregnant with me at the same time Princess Diana was pregnant with him, I feel strangely connected to Harry.

It's almost like we're distant cousins in some bizarre way. So, imagine my delight when I discovered he was dating, and later married, an American actress of African-American heritage?

"Finally, there's some color in the royal family!" I texted to a few close friends on Prince Harry's wedding day, who later joined in my delight with smiling emojis. She's a beautiful 37-year-old American divorcee with a relaxed California girl sense of style. Naturally, I want her to win.

But as much as I'm team Meghan Markel and pro black women in general, I understand that having a black woman in the monarchy doesn't change much. Let's reflect back for a moment: Shortly after the world learned Meghan was dating Prince Harry, the tabloids were loaded with racist comments. "Duchess Difficult" is a mainstay in the news that particularly stands out to me. "Oh, great another black woman deemed aggressive, ill-tempered and hostile," I remember mumbling to myself.

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The trope of the "angry black woman" has once again re-emerged and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, isn't excluded from it. According to NBC News, some British journalists say Meghan has been treated differently from other members of the House of Windsor, citing a difference in attitude towards Kate, the wife of Harry's elder brother Prince William.

Realizing this reminded me how former First Lady Michelle Obama was treated shortly after taking on the title. Michelle has spoken about the racism she faced as the first lady, noting that when a West Virginia county employee called her an "ape in heels" it cut deep.

And speaking of cutting deep, it pains me when society labels Meghan as "our black hero" because it's damaging to other black women who don't have straight, long hair, light skin, and a narrow nose. Does this mean that if you don't look like Meghan, an "acceptable" version of a black woman, then you don't quite matter? Is her version of black the only type that counts?

But even with the racism and wanted (or unwanted) labels surrounding Meghan being in the royal family, I'm thrilled to learn that her baby (whether a boy or girl) will be seventh-in-line to the throne and the first baby of African ancestry to have such a title in the history of British royalty.

I love birthing stories, and this one is extra special. This, to me, is more magical than Meghan being in the office because it means a new breed of royalty is here. It's a symbol of change, new beginnings and it disrupts white British bloodlines. I couldn't be more excited.

If I'm being honest with myself, I know the baby won't be excluded from racist remarks, but their mere presence will acknowledge that mixed families are breaking age-old boundaries of white people dominating the royal family, and creates new histories. And, that gives me a beacon of hope for not only the Brits but Americans, too.

Just like Meghan, I too am expecting a child any day. Just like Meghan, this baby won't be granted the title of Princess (unless it's a girl, who by default will be seen as such through her daddy's eyes). And, just like Meghan, I'm hopeful yet unsure of the world my little one will live in. But, I'm positive they will break their own boundaries while standing on the shoulders of black women who have come before them.

And that, strangely enough, makes me feel even more connected to the Harry and the rest of the British Royal Family.

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News
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