As fans of Calvin and Hobbes know, the ever-resourceful Calvin recently tried astrology in his unceasing efforts to get his way.
Although his horoscope said the time was right to implement his "key policies" (no bedtime, no homework, no baths), Calvin's mom wasn't buying it. But some parents do buy into astrology. They say it's helpful in figuring out their own little Calvins and Calvinettes.
Gloria Lochrane, for example, periodically consults with Maitland, Fla., astrologer Kelly Lowe about the Lochranes' 11-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.
"It's just one more element you can add to the whole puzzle of life to make it more understandable," she says. "I talk to their teachers, too."
Mrs. Lochrane, comptroller for her family's engineering firm, recently steered daughter Courtney, a little Leo, into a theater class.
"Kelly said Courtney would do well in the arts, expressing herself. So she took a course at the Civic's Theatre for Young People and enjoyed it very much."
Ms. Lowe's examination of Courtney's natal chart also showed that the youngster is a "big-picture" type of person, not interested in details -- information that Mrs. Lochrane and her husband have used in dealing with their daughter.
"My husband can really relate to her because he's also a big-picture kind of person, a problem-solver.
"I'm a detail person so I like things just so. I like things in their place. I have to understand that that's just not her strength. Maybe I'm slightly more lenient on her as far as how she keeps things" -- such as her bedroom.
Believers say such personality differences between parents and kids can be understood in terms of astrological incompatibility -- and clashes can be avoided.
Folks who don't follow the stars find it silly at best -- appalling at worst -- that parents would actually consult an astrologer about child-rearing. But child experts say there's no problem unless the parents take astrology -- like anything else -- to extremes.
"If astrology just broadens the parents' ideas and horizons about interests for their children, how can that be harmful?" said Penny Lukin, a licensed psychologist. "But if they try to push the child into a box, some preconceived notion that doesn't fit who the kid is or what they want, that's harmful."
Astrologers, of course, are convinced that the planets have much to tell curious parents.
"I do an awful lot of natal charts on newborns," said Orlando astrologer Dikki-Jo Mullen. "We all wonder what a child's potentials will be."
But potential and reality are two different things, star-gazers tell anxious parents.
"For the younger child, astrology can help in anticipating where an academic difficulty might lie," Ms. Mullen said. "The potentials are there; then there's the mental attitude of the child -- how much they study, what kind of feedback and encouragement they get from parents."
And not to be overlooked is the little matter of free will, says astrologer Ms. Lowe.
While a chart shows certain tendencies and personality traits, Ms. Lowe said, "We can choose to be obnoxious and moody or a happy, jovial person."
And we can choose to skip our astrologer's advice.
Debbie Fischbach, a Jazzercise instructor, has been told by Ms. Lowe that her 6-year-old Pisces son has a high need to be the center of attention and to have people listen to him.
"She said Brock would be very good in anything he did, but she kept seeing him in an acting career."
Sure enough, the youngster expressed an interest in acting and modeling.
So Mrs. Fischbach started carting him to auditions, which was fun and fine while he was a preschooler. Then he started school.
"I realized how time-consuming that was, and we've backed out of it. I don't have time to be a mom who takes her kid to 100 auditions. It was getting to where they [audition directors] wanted me to pull him out of school."
That was the end of Brock's acting career -- for now anyway.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Fischbach and her husband have developed strategies to accommodate other traits Lowe has noted in the stars.
"Brock really has to be right and to have control, so I give him decisions to make, and we try to make him a big part of any decisions we make."