The practice of astrology—using things like the moon and stars to decipher a person’s personality—is making a fast comeback among today’s young people. On social media, memes revolving around astrology are common and have given the ancient pseudo-science a massive amount of exposure to teenagers and young adults.
This might be worrisome for some parents. The last thing you want is for your teen to think their strengths and weaknesses were set in stone from the moment they were born! Teenagers need to know they have constant opportunities to change, grow, and improve themselves, and taking anything too seriously—especially something with no proof to back it up—can lead to harmful practices. In this article, I give a brief rundown of what astrology is and what parents need to consider if their teenagers start looking to the stars a little too much.
The Basics of Astrology
If you’re reading this, you might already be somewhat familiar with astrology. You might even know the twelve different signs of the Zodiac! If you don’t, here they are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini Cancer, Leo, virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each one signifies different strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits. For instance, Scorpios are known for being jealous, secretive, and quick to hold a grudge, while Aries are known for being great leaders with cheerful dispositions, although they’re also quite stubborn and impulsive.
Your Zodiac sign is based on your birthday, and many people actually know, one way or another, their sign. But did you know each person has multiple different Zodiac signs? The one most people know (based on birth date alone) is the Sun Sign. Each person also has a Moon Sign, an Ascendant Sign, a Mercury Sign, and a sign for every other planet! These are dictated by the time and location of a person’s birth. These lesser-known signs each play a significant role in different aspects of a person’s personality. For instance, Moon Signs determine a person’s self-perception and more private personality, while their Ascendant Sign explains how they come across to other people, similar to a first impression.
These signs are all based on how the stars, moon, planets, and sun were positioned at the time of a person’s birth. This is something many people have qualms with. For one, there’s no proof that the position of these celestial bodies has any power of a teen’s mental strengths and weaknesses; and secondly, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of having so little control over their own personality traits. But it’s important to note that even dedicated astrologists admit there’s a margin for interpretation, and that astrology is a pseudo-science above anything else.
As a parent, it’s important for you to monitor your teen’s involvement in astrology. If it’s nothing more than a fun habit and a way to further understand the world around them, it’s ultimately harmless. However, taking astrology too seriously can lead to bad habits. Here are a few reasons it’s important for parents to tell their teenagers the pitfalls of astrology.
- Astrology Might Stop Personal Development
If your teenager reads about all their different signs and believes they’re destined only to embody one set of traits, they might think it’s okay to stop trying to develop themselves in other ways. For instance, if your teen takes being a Sagittarius to heart, they might think it’s okay for them to be attention-seeking and impatient (two of the negative Sagittarius traits). They might come to believe that, after all, it’s set in the stars, and there’s nothing they can do about it. This kind of thinking is seriously harmful, and it’s crucial to let your teen know that astrology is not meant to provide excuses for negative behaviors.
- Astrology Might Lead to Bullying
Certain signs are known for being especially problematic, and social media is particularly cruel to Scorpios. If your teenager jumps on the astrology bandwagon, they might begin looking at a person’s Zodiac sign as a reason not to be friends with them and treat them poorly. This is problematic for multiple reasons. For one, is there anything more absurd than making a personality judgment simply based on the day a person was born? And two, if your teenager takes these kinds of things too seriously, they might be blocking out some seriously positive friendships and relationships. Again, make sure to talk to your teen about the shortcomings of astrology to make sure they don’t take these things too much to heart.
- Astrology Could Hurt Self-Esteem
All Zodiac signs come with a standard set of strengths and weaknesses. If your teenager takes them too seriously, they might think they’re destined always to be bad at certain things. Leo’s for instance, are known for being a bit down on themselves. Do you want your teen to think they have to be sad and over concerned with how others think of them just because they were born between July 23 and August 22? I’m guessing not.
The major takeaway for all parents, and their teenagers, is that astrology is meant to be a positive way for understanding the way people interact with each other, and it’s far from an exact science. People argue its reliability every day, but all parents need to make sure their teens study astrology with a level head and not let it dictate the way they think about themselves or others.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.