Having one of those days where you left your iPod at home and the day just seems to be dragging on? Tired of wishing you were with all the cool kids at SXSW instead of chained to your desk, waiting for Friday to come?

Times like these call for some musical inspiration. So here are five of my favorite musical destinations you will probably enjoy no matter what your musical taste (trust me, mine’s eclectic) to help you make it through the workday.

  1. SXSW Radio – Stream “pop, jazz, country, blues, reggae, hip hop, electronica – every imaginable style of music, from nearly every continent” featured at SXSW, including highly anticipated newcomers like Baisa Bulat. I’m loving The Acorn, The Cribs, Sea Wolf, among others I’ve discovered so far.
  2. Daytrotter – A wonderful site featuring three bands a week and 12 exclusive songs recorded live in their studio by bands you love or will love after you discover them there.
  3. The Hood Internet – Get a delicious mashup of rap artists and hip indie bands featured weekly at this site. Laid back beats on top of hot rhymes? Who could ask for anything more. Great for the gym, too. Check out the “I’m a Flirt/Shoreline” mix for sure. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.
  4. Stereogum – With a newly re design, this popular music blog features MP3s and videos for your listening and viewing pleasure, along with great reviews and news for when you have a few more minutes to spare – like on your lunch hour.
  5. NPR All Songs Considered – With wonderful interviews from some of the hippest musicians out there, live music and more, this show is worth the weekly listen.

Dance at your desk. (Don’t worry if anyone’s looking.) Love work more.

It’s conversations like this that make me miss writing at this blog on a regular basis. So without further ado, I’m back. And I’ve got lots to say, so spread the word, and join the conversation. Let’s talk about Gen Y.

Rebecca brought up an interesting debate at Modite yesterday. Her position: Helicopter Parenting is good. Of course, it’s not as pat as that, so check out her post to read her reasoning. I think she touches on some good points, and the term “helicopter parents” may be a matter of semantics and over hyped by the media as she suggests, but I have to say, the worst-case types of helicopter parenting that have been hyped by whomever are alive and well, and as a Gen Yer myself, I’ve experienced it on the other side of the interview table. And it’s not pretty when it crosses the line from motherly advice to parental predominance. To me, that’s the issue at hand.

There are so many examples of helicopter parenting that I’ve witnessed in the job process, I have to say that it’s not a good thing. For example, my team once had a candidate turn down a job offer because their parent got too involved in their job search and told them they thought they should make a higher starting salary (even though they had little experience in the field) – it took that person six more months to find a job (and probably a lower salary than we offered) because they blindly followed the advice of a helicopter parent.

Gen Y and the Problem with Boundaries

I think that listening to parental advice is well and good, but I have also witnessed first hand that there is a large segment of Gen Y that struggles with drawing the line with their parents and emerging as independent adults. Because helicopter parent or no, the issue is really with Gen Y. It’s with individuals. And it’s about boundaries.

Boundaries are critical because they give us freedom. Here is an illustration I love: put someone on top of a 50-story building without any railing, and as the wind blows and the building sways, they will flock to the center of it. Put up some railing, and they will go to the edge, peer over, and have the freedom to explore the entirety of the roof.

For Gen Y, boundaries are critical because they enable us to explore the entirety of what it means to be an adult.

I have to say – I didn’t think a lot about boundaries in the context of the parent-child relationship until my pre-marital counseling this weekend. But it makes complete sense, especially applied to this issue.

Essentially, there are three types of parent-child relationships, and two of them are dangerous if they continue on into adulthood.

1. Child-child – In this type of parent-child relationship, parents want to be best friends with their kids,  so they don’t set boundaries, and they don’t do a good job of modeling to their kids what it looks like to be an adult. In the context of helicopter parenting, this can become pretty dangerous, because your parents may be intimately involved in the day-to-day decisions of your life, but they won’t be able to provide you with the wisdom of adulthood that you need – because they want to preserve that friendship first and foremost, and they may help you make decisions that seem cool, but are poor ones. This looks like something that happened to a friend of mine, whose parents advised her to get a variable rate 100% loan on her house a few years back, so she could get more house for her money (which was probably what she wanted to hear at the time), but now my friend is stuck in the middle of a mortgage crisis with a rising payment she can’t meet.

2. Adult-child – In this relationship, the parents become so dependent on their kids when they reach adulthood, the kids can’t have boundaries because the parents become so needy: the children take on the role of adult (like they should) but the parents start to play the role of child. This happens a lot of times when parents go through crises in their own life, like the divorce of his parents that our marriage counselor described bringing this issue to the forefront of his life. When things like this happen, parents tend to become obsessed with the lives of their children and often push aside boundaries even if that had existed previously – often because they need something to fill their own lives with, or to distract them from their own issues. So they will give you advice, and tons of it, but if they’re playing the child role in the relationship, is it really advice you should follow? Of course, you should always love and support your parents, no matter what is going on in their lives, but even in order to do that,  it’s important to have boundaries in place and preserve them.

3. Adult-adult – This is the healthy type of relationship that adult children can have with their parents. Sometimes, it’s up to Gen Y to set the stage for this and assert their adulthood by setting boundaries with their parents. Especially parents tend to helicopter. When Gen Y takes responsibility and sets boundaries with their own parents so that both are acting on the level of adults, this is the setting where “helicopter parenting” as Rebecca describes it works. And it’s really nothing more than Gen Y acting like grown ups, listening to the advice of their parents, and then weighing it as an adult and deciding from there whether or not to take it. Sometimes, this means you take it. Sometimes, it means you don’t.

But so many Gen Yers I know do not have these boundaries in place, or the ability NOT to listen to their parents when it’s neccessary – and that’s where it gets dangerous. If you can’t function without parental input, then you’re not in an adult-adult relationship, and helicoptering can really set you back. It can paralyze you with indecision, like one friend I know, who can hardly go on a job interview without deep parental advisory sessions prior to it. Or, it can ruin your relationship with your parents, like many who never learned to set boundaries and now just refuse to speak with their parents.

Whether or not helicopter parenting is a good thing simply just depends. It depends on your relationship wih your parents. It depends on your responsibility to be an adult and set boundaries with them. And it depends on whether or not you can think for yourself.

If you’ve got those things in place, then helicopter parenting is not just a good thing, it’s really not a thing at all.

For those keeping track, it’s been a while since I posted here. In fact, my boss is one of those people, and he e-mailed me the other day to ask when I would be announcing the “big news” I’ve promised. It’s coming, still. I’m working on it – when I find the time. In the meantime, things have been going swimmingly at my new blog, Personal PR. I’m also a part of the newly launched Brazen Careerist network. Oh yeah, and I got officially engaged and have been planning a wedding in the meantime. It’s now less than two months away. So needless to say, finding balance in my life has been one of those things that’s been a struggle. So for today, I thought I’d share with you a guest post blog friend Elysa asked me to write as an ABCs for Gen Y project she’s launched to celebrate her blog’s one year anniversary. Enjoy. And more about this site is coming soon. But first, I’ve got to focus on balance:

B is for Balance.

Balance means different things to different people. Some devote their careers to it. Others say it’s a myth. Most just want it, whether or not they think it’s really real. We talk about it a lot – different ideas on how to achieve it in our work, how to make it better in our lives. We talk about balance between work and home. Balance in our finances. Balance in our commitments. Balance in media coverage. Balance in politics. Balance. So it helps to know: what does balance look like?

Balance basically boils down to two things: omission and commission. What we choose to do and what we choose not to do. And both are important. Equally. 

Tonight, for me, this is what balance looked like: watching a Barbara Walters special about the royal family, cuddled under a blanket with my fiance by my side and my laptop casually at hand. Instead of worrying about the floor of the bathroom that flooded the other day (fans are in place, I’ve done all I can for now). Instead of starting to address the hundreds of wedding invitations that came in today and need to go out in a week. It means calling my friend back to chat. It means not obsessing over my blog for one night. And going to bed before midnight.

It means not worrying that there’s no five-step formula for living a balanced life, even though if there were, I would have a lot easier time writing this post.

The truth is, I have a pretty typically busy twentysomething life: I don’t exactly have balance down yet. The best I get some days is go, go, go, crash. Sometimes, that’s the best I can approximate balance. But hey, I’m trying. And I think that’s the key to balance. Working at it.

So tonight, balance is about writing a short post instead of a long one. Smiling in the grocery line, no matter how long it was. Spending time on relationships. Giving myself time to do all the things in the few hours after work that make my life worth working for. Living my life. Being present in it.

Give yourself permission to find your balance. And then look for it. Wherever in the wild blue that takes you.