Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, they belong not to you.
-- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
No child comes into this world with an empty slate. Each has its unique journey, gifts, and challenges, which are so effectively portrayed by the planetary patterns in an astrological chart. A consultation regarding a child's horoscope can cultivate the parent's sense of wonder and discovery about their child. In fact, parents have often commented to me that astrology has given them an extremely helpful reminder of the similarities and differences between themselves and their child (or children). When feeling overwhelmed by the emotional tides and currents of family life, the distance or overview of the astrological chart can help restore perspective, compassion, and self-forgiveness.
No parent should mold a child to their own life path or force the child toward issues and interests that the parent regrets dropping themselves. Unfortunately, this happens far too often. Parents can, however, expose their children to situations and opportunities that bring out the child's unique gifts. The astrological chart can identify the potential of those gifts, as well as indicate the optimum timing of opportunities.
Parenting requires common sense. Though not taught in the schools, it is one of the most significant and demanding jobs any one of us will undertake. As an astrologer who often does consultations for families, I realize the value of sprinkling my sessions with touches of common sense and good basic parenting principles.
What makes for a good parent? What does a child need? A parent's primary concern is to find ways to support a child's efforts to become a creative responsible adult. Following are some guidelines in parent-child astrological counseling. (To honor client confidentiality, the names have been changed and the birth data withheld from publication.)
Parents Don't Have to Do It All
Any shared pattern between parent and child can spark connections. It might be a common passion or hobby, such as finding pleasure or comfort in nature, or a mutual desire to talk things through. If it is a two-parent family, you may find one parent who possesses more ease and compatibility with the child. It could be either the mother or father who is the prime nurturer in the family. Don't stick to old rulerships of Moon to mother, Sun to father. Either parent could be symbolized by the 4th and 10th houses.
Often, a good connection somewhere in the family dynamic releases pressure in the whole family system. Consider looking outside the immediate family unit for help, such as to a grandparent or teacher. A supportive grandparent may be indicated by Saturn or Pluto in aspect to either the Moon or the 4th house (sometimes the 8th). Jupiter or strong 9th-house configurations can reflect a teacher who is a guiding light for the child. Strong Gemini or a 3rd-house Moon can suggest a deep bond with a neighbor or a comfortable family down the road. With an emphasis in Virgo or a 6th-house Moon, look for significant pets or suggest that the family consider getting one.
The Moon in the First Seven Years
While the ages of seven through twelve are ruled by Mercury and ages 13 through 18 are ruled by Venus and Mars, I consider those critical first seven years to be dominated by the Moon. Until the age of seven, the Moon is the prime indicator of what a child must receive in order to feel safe and well-nurtured. If a child doesn't get what she or he needs, which is often indicated by difficult aspects to the Moon, the child misses out on emotional resilience. That early emotional hunger can dominate the rest of the life on an unconscious level. This lack of resilience and subsequent neediness will continue to come up in the adult life .
When parents are doing their best and their child is still miserable or confused or angry, it is devastating. But a parent is also someone's child, and thus the issues are complex and intertwined.
Whose Need Is Whose?
Moon aspects in a parent's chart, especially those involving Moon-Saturn or Moon-Pluto, can indicate unresolved issues that carry over from their own early years and are projected upon the child. There can be a blind spot here where the parent continues to re-enact an early situation that may not bear any resemblance to the child's needs or inclinations.
With Margaret's Moon conjunct Venus in Scorpio, she expected to bond passionately and intimately with her firstborn child. However, her son Robin had a Moon in Aries squaring a Sun-Mars conjunction. He didn't want the cuddling and closeness; he wanted to be independent. He rejected the close snugly baby carrier, and fussed and raged and bellowed for the first six months of his life. At six months he rejected the breast for a cup he could hold himself. Within a couple of months he was walking, and with this independence he became a happier person.
Since Margaret's Moon-Venus conjunction aspects both Saturn and Pluto, she saw his need for independence as a personal rejection. It was the flip side of her early rejection by a mother with Sun and Moon in air signs, who just couldn't understand her passionate, intense, demanding infant. By having these dynamics explained through the chart's astrological symbolism, Margaret was able to acquire an ongoing frame of reference to remind her to separate her own needs from those of her son.
Therefore, with the birth of her second child, she was ready. She saved the outward-facing baby carrier and had her own program of interests and agendas that she had carefully planned to keep going throughout the early months. Of course, the cosmos was still dishing out lessons (the Moon's aspects to Saturn and Pluto). Her daughter was born with Moon conjunct Venus in Cancer in the 7th house, loving nothing more than hours of breastfeeding and her mother's total and undistracted devotion.
Nurture and Structure
Beginning with Mark's birth, Caroline has used astrology, and through our connection I have gained immensely from her natural ability to explain parenting principles and techniques.
As she describes so well (reflecting the duality of her Gemini Moon), parenting for her is a twofold job. She needs to give her son what he needs to feel loved and she needs to provide a safe structure for him as he grows to adulthood. What has she gained from astrology to support her parenting? How does astrology give clues regarding her particular parenting style -- the strengths and the pitfalls? Does it match what her son needs?
With Caroline's Moon in Gemini in a dominant position conjunct the Ascendant, parenting is a major focus in her life. She has an intense emotional need to make contact with others and to find common language to explain and convey feelings. With the Moon in the 12th house, this need may be excessive at times, based on an early history of not connecting. She has the ability to find rapport with anyone and to present her thoughts in a humorous, unusual, and engaging manner. In crisis, however, Caroline wants to reason things out and make the most logical choices. With her Moon square both Mercury and Venus in Virgo, she needs to be aware of a tendency towards examining and categorizing instinct and gut reactions rather than just feeling them.
With a trine from Moon to Saturn, she takes her nurturing responsibilities very seriously. This may describe how and why she is drawn to develop her gift professionally, as a parent educator. It seems to be a creative choice. The out-of-sign Sun-Saturn conjunction in the 5th house trines her Gemini Moon. Support also comes from Moon sextile Jupiter in Aries, indicative of a generous willingness to share her emotional experiences in a new field.
The question is: How does this suit her son? Mark is an Aquarian Sun, which conjuncts Mars and Mercury in the 10th house, and his Moon is in Aries, which, like his Mother's Moon, is on the Ascendant. He has many signatures of a strong-minded, willful, and independent spirit. With an Aries Moon, he cherishes and aggressively protects his independence. Emotional responses are spontaneous, uncomplicated, unconsidered, and hard to explain. His emotions may change so fast that he may not remember his old mood long enough to make sense of it for himself, or be able to explain it to his mother.
With a Moon-Pluto opposition, Mark can experience his mother as a tricky manipulator. He's called her a control freak more than a few times. With her Virgo Sun conjunct Saturn and a Mars-Pluto conjunction in the 4th house, Mark's impressions are confirmed in her chart. However, because of astrology, Caroline is aware of this particular pitfall and attempts to stay above-board and continue to work on it. Caroline's parental themes of "nurture and structure" are an excellent positive manifestation of these strong Saturn-Moon-Pluto configurations. Both Mark and Caroline use humor to call each other on the control issue, which seems to work to defuse potential head-on conflicts.
Astrology has been pivotal in helping Caroline stay open to Mark's very different style and her best responses toward him. For example, she doesn't want to fall into the trap of helping him so much that he becomes helpless. She also needs to be aware of her fearfulness about what he might experience in his life (Sun-Saturn in the 5th opposing Jupiter in Aries).
How to Talk to Each Other
Unlike compatibility between peers, it is up to the parent to flex and adjust to the child's style of communication, at least in the early years. Comparing Mercury in the parent and child's horoscopes, even by element, can give a feeling of the connections they are able to make. The parent can then either modify their own style or be alert to the different ways by which their child is communicating. Mercury is particularly responsive to modeled behavior. Good communication skills in the family setting bring profound results.
How could Caroline expect Mark, with Mercury conjunct Mars in Aquarius and a strong Moon in Aries, to communicate and connect with other people? What does he need? He needs to move, be active, fidget, or engage in something like walking or drawing while he's communicating. This helps to discharge some of the excess energy indicated by the fire and air tensions of his chart. There's an erratic quality to his effectiveness at making links, which can be explosively frustrating for him. However, this tension may push him to some very creative mediums of communication. He has recently developed a passion, and a gift, for photography.
As a parent, or as an astrologer, use open-ended questions. If a child can answer with a quick yes or no, they are unlikely to give you much else. In office sessions, I have toys available for the child who needs something to break the ice, or for those who need to listen indirectly. I get clues from what they are doing with the toys. Watch their body language and be flexible about their use of your space. I recently had one session where a child wriggled ferociously, then settled in and spent most of our time together standing on his head. His mother later said he'd gotten a tremendous amount from our time together and had shared the session in detail with her. His Mercury is in Leo, squaring Pluto.
With Mercury in an air sign, connection and communication usually come easily, though the child may pick up excess nervous energy and need help in discharging it. If their sharing seems too abstract, reflect back to them what you see of their emotions. Watch for clues in what they are saying about their friends.
With Mercury in water, the emotional component may be overwhelming and may be better released through indirect means, such as drawing or doodling. Sharing dreams or memories can be a good way to probe for what's going on in their rich unconscious, especially with Moon in Cancer. Suggest to the parent that their most effective communications may occur just before sleep.
Mercury in earth can be very straightforward and practical. However, you might get the minuti' of their daily schedule and never any revealing emotional content. Share thoughts while massaging their shoulders or feet. Be especially vigilant of their body language.
Mercury in a fire sign may communicate their intense responses to life in an aggressive, feisty, or off-putting style. You may feel they hear you only when you raise your voice. Despite this, they are very straightforward and easily devastated by criticism.
A Sense of Humor Helps
My client Marcia mentioned how important a common, quirky sense of humor has been during hard times with her eleven-year-old son Jacob. In consultation we discussed the strengths provided by air Suns in trine, emphasizing mental rapport and a similar sociable and inquisitive approach to life. This was supported by strongly emphasized Mercury's in trine aspect to each other, both in water and both in a strong aspect to Jupiter. Compatible Mercury's indicate a similar style of communicating. Even if this is being used mainly to clarify their differences, it does indicate they are able to make contact and understand each other.
Marcia and Jacob's ability to talk with each other helps ease a dominance of quincunxes between their two charts. She has a stellium of planets in Gemini (including her Moon), which quincunxes his stellium of planets in Scorpio (including his Moon). This is indicative of two people who instinctively approach issues from very different and sometimes irreconcilable directions. It is a difficult pattern that can be outgrown. As Jacob matures and his Sun becomes stronger, their solar compatibility will become more accentuated. As adults, their differences will probably be the material of many strange private jokes between them, though I wouldn't encourage them to live together forever!
Jacob's Scorpio Moon conjuncts Mercury and the South Node, indicating an intense, many-faceted connection with his mother. Marcia's Moon conjuncting her Venus-North Node reflects the incredible love and compassion she brings to their relationship, as well as her difficulty in holding her ground against his willfulness. In addition, Jacob has quite a power point -- Ascendant at 29? Leo, the position of fixed star Regulus, the "Kingmaker". Saturn in Scorpio on the IC also encourages him to hold his ground.
How and When to Talk with a Child Client
I try to be vigilant in situations when I am being used by a parent to try to push their agenda with a child. In such cases, my work is with the parent in identifying this problem and seeking resolution.
Sometimes, however, it feels right to connect with the child in person. I have consultations with children from the ages of seven up. I leave it up to the parent and child to decide whether the child is happy to come alone or prefers to have the parent with her or him. (I must admit we generally have more fun if it's just the child and me.)
I treat the initial session as an opening, an introduction to astrology in a very practical way. I prefer to have the charts of the mother, father, and child (occasionally a sibling) there with us. I show them their own special picture of the sky. I talk about what planets he or she would have seen if the child had been taken out at birth (as they do in many native cultures) to look at "their" sky. I show them how to find the Sun and Moon, and what stars were coming over the eastern horizon. It's especially fun to talk about a visible rising or setting planet as their special gift. I tell them to keep an eye out for times when that planet will be seen in the same place, because it means it's a powerful time for them.
We practice finding the Sun and Moon in the charts of the parents. This exercise frequently provides places where openings to conversation about family similarities or differences can happen. Through the symbols of astrology, doors are opened to discuss issues in an easy and unthreatening way, either with me during our time together or later with the parent.
I have a preliminary conversation with the parent regarding the child and follow the session with another contact to share what we have discussed. Regarding confidentiality, it's important for a child to feel they can talk privately with me. I tell parent and child that the only thing I would share from our session together would be something that would help the parent to help their child, or if they are in danger.
With a teenage client, it becomes more important that they see me as someone outside the family constellation, an ally or a neutral party without the emotional investment or history. Issues of confidentiality become more important, and we discuss this in detail. Legally, once a child is 14, a counselor is not required to reveal details of consultations with the parents unless they are in danger. So far, in my own experience, we have been able to make acceptable agreements between parent and teen.
I have yet to be in a situation where a child has shared information with me that indicated they were in extreme danger. As astrologers, we need to be aware of legalities regarding our work as counselors. It is important to know the resources we have access to. Child Protective Services in each state will handle situations where a child is in danger, from within or outside the family. If you have concerns, you can contact them anonymously for guidelines and resources. I also use a network of good therapists for support, information, and referral.
Infant Readings - Don't Muddy the Waters
When someone asks for a reading of a baby's chart, I prefer not to give too much information too early. It is important for the parent(s) and child to have the opportunity to establish a relationship without an astrologer creating expectations or filters to the pure experience of the early bonding. Don't muddy the waters.
Certainly there is a lot to be gained by a simple positive discussion of the strengths of the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant. Comparing the Moons of parent and child, in terms of emotional styles, can be carefully navigated in a positive manner.
It's important to have the parent's birth data, even when it is a brief gift reading of an infant. That way you know how to present the information in such a way that the parent can hear it. Moon in Taurus will appreciate the presentation of the package and probably (bar a Moon-Neptune opposition) read it in a down-to-earth manner. Moon in Pisces may read more into your comments than you ever suggested, so be vigilant of anything that could be worrisome. For example, it may be easier for a parent new to astrology to understand their baby's deep, impressionable, changeable, highly sensitive emotional nature if you talk to them about the nature of water, rather than say they have a Scorpio Moon.
A Well That Has Run Dry Has No Water to Give
I now close with where I should have begun -- emphasizing the importance of parents taking care of themselves. Like the safety instructions one is given when flying, parents need to put on their own oxygen masks first. Only then will they have what they need to care for their child.
To identify ways they can take care of their own emotional needs and make sure they are well-nourished on all levels, focus upon the parent's Moon, its aspects and position. Discuss their own playful creative gifts, as represented by their 5th house -- the planets contained in it, the sign on the cusp, and the ruler(s) of that house. If Saturnian responsibility overshadows the picture, bring in Jupiter with its opportunities, perspective, and hope. Don't let them invest all their joy in their child. It's too hard, on both the child and the parents.
©1997 Gretchen Lawlor - all rights reserved
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