I have adult twins, fraternal, boy and girl, born on March 28, 1975 , in Phoenix , Arizona . They were five minutes apart, 6:19 p.m. (boy) and 6:23 p.m. (girl). I am wondering how in the world they can be so different. She is responsible, hardworking, successful and level headed; he, on the other hand, is charming, irresponsible, temperamental and, it appears, to be going absolutely nowhere in life. Don't get me wrong, they are both wonderful people. They are both extremely intelligent, personable, honorable and attractive. I know what you're thinking... it isn't their "sign," but, rather their upbringing but I tried to be as fair and equal to both children, as possible. It seems that the very core of their personalities are so extremely opposite. How in the world can five minutes make such a drastic different and... for my son... is there any kind of rainbow ahead? Thank you.
The charts of twins exist (in part) to teach astrologers not to be so cocky. They teach us (once again) that people are individuals and remind us how many ways there are to live out one's astrology, even when the people have exceedingly similar charts, similar backgrounds, the exact same parents and similar genetics. They remind us that every chart and every client is an individual case.
To me the experiences of twins serve as a reminder to astrologers to honor life experience before the chart, and to use the chart carefully in this process -- more as a basis of inquiry than as a basis for making statements. "Does life imitate the chart, or does the chart imitate life?" Both happen, but astrology is a humanitarian profession, not a science, and in humane astrology we need to start with people.
I also suggest your question reminds the world that we should never underestimate the differences between the experiences of men and the experiences of women in the world; while these two individuals have similar charts in just about every respect, they belong to different halves of humanity.
How I can address your question in a short letter and how I would work with them as individuals are two very different things. In this context here, I have no details about their lives, how they responded to the same transits (planetary experiences that happened to them at about the same time) or family experiences, and many other factors; I merely have the charts and your descriptions, and some common sense to apply. Obviously any two people on the planet will have many different experiences and entirely different perceptions.
Charts don't dictate life; they give us a set of tools with which to work. Different people use the same tools different ways.
So, here are my suggestions:
First, I suggest you trust the process of their lives. They are independent people, independent of one another and independent of you. You've done your best as a parent and you got them to adulthood well cared for and alive. That's a very significant accomplishment on this planet. That alone bodes well for the future.
Second, people mature at different paces and in different ways and it's not always for us to judge what is appropriate for any particular stage of development.
Having said that, here is a little advice from astrology. Both your son and daughter are before their Saturn return at age 29/30. This means they have yet to fully settle into adulthood; far from it. I view the years between 21 and 28 or so as a time to experiment wildly, because there are few other such opportunities in life. Then the Saturn return comes along and we have to make some choices and, in a true sense, make a real start of things.
It may well be that your daughter is ahead of herself and your son is a little behind -- or right on time. Have a little mercy; this world is not a particularly friendly place to young people and they are pushed and pulled in countless directions.
As regards their personal charts, there are always subtle but important differences between the charts of twins, even those born five minutes apart. One must study those distinctions to apply astrology to the question. I can at first glance see that they are both very dynamic people who possess a special sense of their destiny. They are individuals to an extreme. They are, therefore, likely to go off in entirely different directions (their own!) as their lives progress.
The best thing you can do for them is to monitor their progress and be there when they call -- but let them live their lives without the burden of too much anxiety. Who is your son, really? Who is he besides who you want him to be? Perhaps you can get to know him, and love him for the man he is.
I can offer you one clue that might satisfy your curiosity as to WHY this all is. I would propose that your daughter feels she has to try a little harder to make things work, and that bit of extra effort (which may be a lot of effort) helps her ground and keep her focus. She is also more the "look before you cross" type who has an unusual degree of respect for where her life intersects with the larger society.
I would say your son is someone who feels like things are coming his way and can be a bit more of carefree about life, and this will always be with him. And certain factors in both charts are feel a bit more comfortable for a woman's experience than a man's -- but that doesn't mean they cannot be overcome or embraced. I would be very surprised if by 30 he is not doing exceptionally well; either that, or at 30, he will very likely learn to take life much more seriously.
Q: We have a 14-year-old son who was born on September 5, 1989 at 3:05 am. He was two weeks premature and weighed 3 lbs., 9 oz. For the past 4-5 years, he has changed from a lovely son to a monster, always on a Full Moon. No one can help us. Our Doctor said if he were a girl he would put him on hormone tablets!
Is there anything in his star chart that would indicate whether this has anything to do with the Moon? We are convinced it does, but no one can understand it or help us deal with it or help our son, Stuart.
We would love to hear from you if you have any insight into this. We don't know where to turn.
A: Any cop, waitress, or even the local film developing guy, will tell you that people respond to the Full Moon. To me it is more than interesting that half the population lives with a biological cycle that is directly related to the Moon, sometimes timed down to the day. And if one half of the population does, that makes it fairly likely that the other half does as well, even if it's less noticeable.
It's working out to be somewhat more noticeable with your son. And I realize this is a confounding situation; I can see you sitting in a doctor's office explaining it to a blank stare. Yet the fact that you've noticed that this involves the Full Moon is helpful; it provides at least a clue.
I'm going to answer in two halves.
Part one. I suggest a holistic approach. Holistic approaches are gentle, somewhat slow ways to solve a problem, and often living with it for a while is the recommended approach. As you've done this already, having the right mindset is important. Western medicine teaches us that we need to dive in and set things straight. Holistic medicine teaches that there is a gradual healing process—and that something inside your son is going to heal him, even if he requires the assistance of adults around him.
Were I faced with your situation, knowing what I know, I would contact a classical homeopath. I say this recognizing that not everyone believes in homeopathy or can see the sense it, but I also say this as a student of homeopathy and as someone whom this art has helped a great deal. To me this seems like a gentle approach that would lead you to the office of a practitioner who is able to look at the problem in its many layers, including your son's personal story, his emotional makeup, his family situation, our stressful time in history, and others. Homeopaths are the original practitioners who deal with the mind-body connection and who are quite good at handling psychic and energetic themes as well. If you contact my office I will recommend someone in your area.
I also suggest finding someone for your child to talk to, outside the family. I would recommend a therapist who takes a minimalist approach and who would not give your child drugs. This must be someone who your son likes, gets along with and feels comfortable with. More than anything he needs to be given an opportunity to work things out for himself, in his own time. And, if you can afford it, I suggest that this be a prolonged process that lasts six months to two years, if it's going well. It can, under the best conditions, take months for a person to trust a therapist enough to open up a bit.
Looking at his chart, it is very likely that your child is struggling with emotional frustration. He has not only the Sun in Virgo, but Mars in Virgo as well, and this feels to me like trapped energy or fire that is struggling to burst out, but is getting hung up in his mind. Then the Full Moon comes along and the tide of energy rises.
As well, he is a deep, deep young man. With both the Moon and Pluto in Scorpio, it is difficult to fathom the depths of his heart or the intensity of his feelings—including loneliness. He is not easy to reach; this you know, yet the only way to reach a difficult person is gently. He has some intense feelings brewing in there and he may, at times, not want to be disturbed. And yes that Scorpio Moon and Pluto in Scorpio have a distinct hormonal feeling, but again I don't recommend any drugs—I shudder at the thought. (Homeopathy is a non-drug approach that takes much more into account.)
It is possible that he has experienced the early onset of puberty. In any event, he's at that age now, where a great deal changes and manhood kicks into high gear. I think you need to be open and honest with him about the changes that his body and feelings are going through, and let him know he's okay with you whatever he feels and whoever he is.
Kids all need deep reassurance, consistency and love. They need to know they are okay the way they are. They need to feel this, and often they need to be told. In any case, I suggest that this not be made into a 'big deal' because it is only likely to multiply if so. This is just life; this is his life. How he is treated by the adults around him now will say a lot about how he's treated in the future.
I wish you the best.
I am expecting twins very soon and (for medical reasons) will have a planned Caesarian. At the moment, this will take place on 29th July but there is every possibility I can change the date. This puts me in a quandary - it seems somehow wrong to attempt to calculate when would be the best time for their birth, but I also feel I should not just ignore this aspect. Do you have any thoughts about this? Any comments much appreciated.
By now you're likely to have given birth to your twins, so this response is a bit more academic than it will be practical. But in terms of choosing the natal chart of one's children, you raise an ethical issue of epic proportions. Can we really pick the best chart? But does it make any sense to have the person who schedules the operating room make the decision arbitrarily?
It would seem silly to be aware of astrology and not consult the art if you are doing something so important as a Caesarian birth. But were I your astrologer, I would be a lot less inclined to cast the astrology as a custom birth chart and much more inclined to make sure that we had the best possible chart for the surgery itself. The two would be unlikely to conflict. But I think that surgery is something calling for careful examination of planetary influences along with careful exploration of the reasons for the procedure. This has been one of the time-honored uses of astrology going back to the beginning. Sometimes it is even possible to get the hospital to play along with the game.
Were I your astrologer, I also would advise whole-heartedly that you seek the counsel of two different midwives to get non-medical (Wise Woman tradition) opinions on the presumed necessity of the c-section. Most c-sections are in fact unnecessary and are done for a variety of reasons other than medical ones. Because the delivery could take place in a hospital birthing room, there could be a surgical team standing by close at hand in the event that the c-section became necessary. And there are times when it surely is indicated.
I wish you the best, and a speedy recovery.
I look forward to your Parenting Site . YES!!!
Not to jump the gun, yet I'm so concerned about my stepdaughter, who was born [data withheld]. She has been diagnosed with 'dead spots' by the schoolteachers, school counselors and school psychologist in her learning abilities. When helping her to study, she'll be unable to grasp a concept that is not complex at all. For example, to borrow a whole number when subtracting mixed numbers (whole numbers and fractions), that one translates into a fraction (e.g. 5/5, 8/8 or whatever depending on the denominator). We worked on this concept for two hours (including a couple of 15 minute breaks). We drew charts, tried catchy phrases, singalongs, inductive and deductive logic and analogies -- puppy dog stories… the lot. She still couldn't understand it. I was exhausted and totally clueless why nothing would stick. A brick wall was hit on every single problem (do you sense some frustration?). She's 12 and just starting to go through all the hormonal stuff with middle school, her moon time, first boyfriend and all of that... so that may be part of the static. (Wouldn't you rather be talking to your friend on the phone than subtracting fractions??!) Yet she really wasn't doing that well in school before, either -- now they've upped the antie, so to speak (no child left behind, don't ya know). So I wonder if there's a genuine learning disability or if she's a really, really, really good actress! Is there something in her chart that evidences a learning disability? If so, do you see what might be of benefit? Any input is greatly appreciated.
Dead spots, they say? I want to put a big red mark on their language. Please stop calling whatever your situation your daughter is in 'dead spots', and please tell the teachers to do the same thing. If the teachers don't listen, go to the principal and the school's guidance or psychological staff and convince them. That is horrifying language for a young person to hear about herself. There is nothing dead about your stepdaughter, or her mind. She is a vibrant young girl trying to find her way in a complex, mean world where she has no power and many expectations placed on her. On top of which -- as you say -- she is beginning to feel the changes associated with becoming a woman, and that's both emotionally intense, confusing and complex, infused with feelings and curiosities that I can barely even imagine.
Before I go on, I need to acknowledge a prejudice: when a child has a problem, look around the child first. When we face any situation in life, we must consider the whole environment. When there is a 'learning disability' look at what the young person is attempting to be taught and how; under what conditions; and why they would even be bothered to learn it in the first place. Look at what is happening at home. I cannot put into words how thoroughly unimpressed I am that your stepdaughter cannot grasp (for example) fractions. If I may be so bold, who gives the shake of a rat's tail about fractions? Why should she care? To impress a bunch of adults, in order to preserve a shred of her self-esteem?
I can suggest a reason: she gets more attention when she does not know fractions than when she does know them, and she NEEDS attention. You sitting there teaching her and singing about denominators is very reassuring. She may be afraid you're going to leave the moment she grasps the idea. This is just a theory. Please don't use it against her.
Let's put her natal up on the screen, and consider its messages extra gently, because this is a child's chart. Please send her love and kindness as you look and read along.
The first thing I notice is that her Moon is in the last degree of Libra. I can assure you of one thing: most of what she has difficulty with is what we would call emotional rather than mental. In particular, that Moon suggests that she does not feel safe, as far as I can tell from here. I would not feel so safe with that Moon -- and there does not need to be a danger! We are talking about feelings. You say you are her stepmother, and whatever happened, or more likely is happening, with her biological mother is a likely source of frustration and difficulty for her, as well as a sense of grief and loss. She wants her mom.
The situation around her biological mother must be handled very gently, because it is truly her most sensitive spot, and the material of that relationship will affect all of her relationships, lifelong.
When the Moon is far out at the end of a sign (pictured in red, in the 2nd house counting wedges anti-clockwise from the one below the left-hand horizontal line), it can be very difficult. It's kind of like a Moon without a mission or sense of grounding; it's like she's drifting, or coasting on momentum, and can't really direct herself as easily as some other people can. The Moon in her chart has nothing solid to push against or cling to. The Moon in any chart represents the sense of safety, our ideas about security (or lack thereof), our feeling body and the feelings in our body, the expectations that were put onto us as a child, and -- most vitally -- something crucial about mom.
Her Moon is getting a lot of transits right now -- that is, other planets pushing against it, walking over it, or meeting it face-on. Saturn in Cancer is hanging around the neighborhood, making a loose but slowly-building square to her Moon, which is pushing her to mature and grow up, a feeling that I assure you is not comfortable on one level, but may be very reassuring on another. This will come to a peak of energy over the summer when Saturn changes signs to Leo, which it does without retreating back into Cancer; it is a one-shot deal). Saturn squaring her Moon in the most positive sense will give her a sense of structure and help her get a feel for what is expected of her -- and with any luck, give her the gumption to come through. This summer is a big time of maturing for her. You will learn a few things during this transit and I suggest you pay close attention and remember what they are. But you're not there yet. Other transits are much closer or have already begun.
As well, there are two planets currently making a conjunction to one another in late Capricorn that are likely to be involved in her current situation: these are Chiron and Nessus. Both of these can have a lot to do with growth process, the psychology and dynamics of families, psychological impact of treatment in the household, and the sense of injury that we must rise above. She seems to have plenty of this lately.
I think it's critical that she be given a structured place where she can express her feelings safely, and with absolute dependability, over a long period of time. I would suggest that if you can find a compassionate, gentle therapist who she truly likes, one or two visits a week -- rain or shine -- would be very helpful. She needs this! This is for the purpose of creating a safe, dependable space where she can express herself and not be judged; not offend anyone; and get a sense of what she is feeling. I suggest a private therapist, not someone in school, where they seem to lack any sensitivity to her and use words like 'dead spots'.
Let's go to the level of mind. Notice that her natal Mercury is retrograde (the little Rx next to the planet tells us this). Mercury is in the 8th house, counting again from the first wedge beneath the left-hand horizon. Mercury retrograde in Aries is the image of a highly original thinker who is tuned her psychic radio to an entirely different wavelength than the rest of us. Put this in the 8th house, the deepest and most complex house of the lot, and we can be sure she has ideas about life that, could she express them, you would find very surprising, mature and a bit strange. But due to family circumstances and certain facts about her caregivers either being challenged by her depth and innovation, or through not 'getting her', she has had to turn off this important aspect of who she is. The retrograde suggests, essentially, that she is dumbing herself down, perhaps for the reasons proposed above, perhaps so that people don't get miffed at her. I don't think she is doing this consciously; rather, my sense is that it's a strategy that seems to work, and that she has her mind on much deeper things as a kind of retreat to a deeper and hopefully safe space.
The next thing I suggest you be aware of is the intensity with which the changes in our society are impacting her. Take a look at her 5th house, beginning with wedge beneath the left-hand horizontal line and counting anti-clockwise around the wheel. She has Capricorn on the 5th house and in that house there is a very close conjunction of Uranus (in green) and Neptune (in blue). This conjunction, involving two slow-moving planets, marked the beginning of the end of the world as we know it. This coincides with her birth. All those rigid constructions of government, ideology and social roles (represented by Capricorn) began to collapse right along with the USSR and the Berlin Wall. Imagine how challenging it must be for her to navigate this world given that her childhood, and indeed, her whole life, has been marked by such intensity of change. There is no tradition to which she can really cling.
She is, as well, picking up on all the insecurities and fears of the adults around her (Pisces on the 7th, the exactly horizontal right-hand line) and wants little more than to make the world a better, softer and more secure place. She is also likely to be some kind of an artist, and needs all the chances for creative expression that she can get -- where nobody tells her what to do.
Last story for now. Notice her 6th house. The 6th is the house of intelligence, service, work and one place we look for information about mental integration and the processing of ideas. She has Aquarius in this house. Aquarius is smart like nobody's business; it is inventive and can see the future; Aquarius can solve the problems of the future today. (The potential only drawback to such a gift is when somebody with strong Aquarius has nothing special in the chart to indicate, independently, that they possess emotional intelligence, but she has quite a bit to support her sensitivity and the wisdom of her feelings -- principally such a prominent Venus, and her south node in Cancer.) As long as a person can experience their feelings, and she can though they may confuse her considerably, Aquarius is a very useful angle in any chart.
But she may not feel safe experiencing her feelings; thus, her intelligence can seem to falter.
She has Saturn and Mars here in this house and sign, which to me puts her into the highly intellectually gifted level rather than being vaguely 'disabled'. But in our world, sadly, one often masquerades as the other. One thing you need to remember about people with such strong Aquarius is that they are probably smarter than you, and you have to treat them that way, while remaining the adult in the situation. The other thing that will help you to remember is that they understand the world on their own terms, and they may not seem to grasp that which follows a mental or intellectual pattern that is different than their own. I would say that if she is not understanding something simple, try for something more elegant.
I am curious what she has to say about fractals. Fractals are images of complex mathematical patterns. They are a kind of natural mathematical phenomenon that's emerged in the past 25 years. I am curious what she has to say about them. A few are included in the link below. Please show them to her, and tell her I said hello from a Laundromat in downtown Paris .
Here is some fractal freeware that might suit her Aquarian mind a little more generously than the "four quarters make a dollar" math that she's now being pressured to learn.
http://www.cainer.com/ericfrancis/dec11.html for the next two...
I was born in Vangaindrano, Madagascar, on the summer solstice, on June 21 1959. That is, however, actually a winter solstice in Madagascar, as it is in the southern hemisphere.
My son was born on December 21, 1988 in Bergen, Norway. So on my birthday the day gets darker until his birthday, and on his it gets lighter, or vice versa if we're in the southern hemisphere, and we're both born on winter solstice. although on the opposite sides of the year and the globe.
Does this one in a trillion chance mean anything?
Well, for starters, it's a very cool arrangement. And yes, we're talking about some astronomical astrological odds of it happening, but, alas -- it happened.
Does it mean anything? It all depends on what you mean by mean. As I sit here patiently writing my 2,000 word replies to the many questions of my beloved readers, I do my best to guide us away from the kind of astrology that says, "This means you need new spark plugs."
Technically, the Sun in your chart is opposite the Sun in your son's chart. At the very least, that's a dynamic setup, and suggests the meeting of two very different, but somehow closely related points of view on life. Yet despite the opposition, you are both born at the extreme dark of the year. That suggests something deeply in common.
To me, the meaning of this arrangement is more poetic than it is literal. Changing seasons are always poignant moments. The solstices are the extreme points of the year -- the turning points. So it's fair to say that the story of your lives is a story of turning points, some of them momentous.
We could look at astrological theory and study the relationship between Cancer and Capricorn. Both of these are signs related to parental situations and energies, of nurturing and protecting life, of taking authority, of being the progenitor of life. In the Esoteric school of astrology, Cancer and Capricorn are considered the two gateways to life ("the doors to the zodiac"), signs closely associated with reincarnation, the Christ story, self-preservation and immortality.
In this respect, it's pretty spiritual stuff you've got going on; I would hesitate to say more without hearing your story in your own words.
I am writing in response to the mummy who is worried about her daughter's learning skills. I am with a position in a good university, but I would jump in and say that this lady is underestimating her genes and her daughter's intelligence if she gets stressed over this stuff. I had two academic parents, and was both lazy and dreamy at school. I did not perform even decently in any subject except for art; my parents were both distracted and did not know what to do! But when I hit 14, I suddenly woke up and started working and performing. I am now 36 with a BA and Ma in Arts and Business Management, and a great career both behind and ahead of me. My three children now, without their father, are being brought up to enjoy life and school, as I will not pressure them. I know what academic pressure can do to kids, and I also know that they progress at their own rate. I feel that there are lots of loving parents out there that need to calm down, accept, love, appreciate, nurture and get on with being parents, and stop trying to be scientists bringing up Stepford children!
I'm with you. In a personal note to the writer of the letter (printed with the chart "Doesn't Like Fractions" last week), I responded to her concern over her daughter's grades:
"I cringe at the mere discussion of grades. I attended a grade-free high school called John Dewey High School in New York City , a public school. We all got into very good colleges and we did well there, no worries, and we were able to utterly dispense with the whole sham of grades. We learned, we loved our teachers, we loved what we were doing, we taught one another, we ran the school. We were treated as adults. At the core was the complete absence of grades. You passed, or you failed. If you failed, you were given many chances to make up for this; there was also independent study.
"There is a book, and I suggest you read it before it's too late. It's called ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE: AN INQUIRY INTO VALUES by R.M. Pirsig. It was the first of the Zen and the Art of books (the rest were copies of his title), and it's about neither Zen nor Harleys, it's about a cross country trip by a writing teacher and his son and a BIG theme of the book is learning and grades and why some people learn and why some do not. Better to let him make the point; the book is a testament to his having survived severe multiple personality syndromes, shock therapy and so on. But what he gets at is that grades are a total sham, and he proves it. Some of the very best, brightest students cannot get the grades because they cannot play that game, which is really a game designed to conceal the lack of teaching and the lack of learning in schools.
The emphasis on grades breaks people's spirits.
It is a radical position but he makes his points very carefully and takes you through the whole experience of teaching writing, and what happened when he started to withhold grades."
My question for you is about twins. I was just visiting a friend with twins, a boy and a girl, born only three minutes apart. (14 January 2004 at 20:00 and 20:03 in Miami Beach, FL.) I was amazed at how developed and extremely different their personalities are even at 10 months. From an amateur's point of view the charts look practically identical. What makes them so different?
This is one of the most common questions put to astrology. And there are some astrological techniques you can use that carefully distinguish between the charts even given three minutes difference and birth time. I've done a twins question earlier in this series. As a side note, twins are not usually born three minutes apart, unless it's by C-section. So we have a bit of the modern world intruding on the biological and astrological process.
For example had the second twin been born as early as 8:31 pm, we would have two different rising signs (Virgo rising in the second birth, as opposed to Leo rising in the first).
The real answer, though, is that they are different because they are different people. They have very similar charts, but they are going to live those charts out each in their own way. One is a boy and one is a girl, and sometimes these seem like different species. This is a reminder to astrologers that the chart is a set of potentials rather than a measure of destiny.
It will be interesting to see how they distinguish themselves as they grow up, and how they seem to be on the same wavelength. Much of the story has yet to be told. They have some very interesting aspects in their charts, and are likely to be talented innovators of some kind. The family must, however, be careful of the influence of religion on their lives (i.e., imposed morals), as such a program could work out to be quite destabilizing on their relationships when the parents plan for it to have quite the opposite effect.
Deducing the Messages
Q: We usually only hear about planetary retrogrades when Mercury starts skating backwards and we're warned that our communications will be fouled-up for the duration. Can you explain what effect a retrograde planet has on its interpretation in the natal chart? Does anybody put a special interpretation on retrograde planets in the birth chart or is it one of those things that depend upon the interpreter, sort of like a reversed Tarot card? I'm curious because I have both Jupiter and Saturn retrograde in my natal chart and, interestingly enough, so does my daughter. We also share a Cancer ascendant. Thank You,
A: Dear Susan,
There is no easy answer to the natal retrograde question and it is very much a question of interpretation, and that in turn, needs to be based on experience. Part of that experience comes through getting to know people and what we go through as kids, and how this is reflected in the chart. Part of it involves knowing planets and how their expressions differ depending on their condition, including retrograde— which is a pretty important status to keep track of.
Retrogrades seem to point to the past. A planet, which is a kind of time keeper, appears to move in reverse. This is an illusion based on relative movement, just like when one train passes another and you feel like you're moving in reverse. While the reverse movement is not happening (since both trains are going forward), the feeling is real.
I have worked with a few good theories about retrogrades. When I hear a plausible astrological theory I give it a trial run for a few years and if it seems to help people, I keep using it.
The first comes from an astrologer whose work I admire deeply, Martha Lang Wescott. She suggests that retrograde planets point to certain conditions of childhood wherein we had to turn off a particular energy so as not to threaten our caregivers. For example, if a parent is really threatened by a child's vitality or aggression, we might see that appear as Mars retrograde. Doing astrology, one must work like a detective. The retrograde planet will be in a certain house, and it will rule a house or two—that is, where we find Aries or Scorpio on the house cusps, the planet will have some information for us about the affairs of that house. Then you need to put it all together. It is usually not that difficult if you are able to gain some objectivity on your life.
Another theory that is less common but can be very helpful (explained best by a guy named Martin Schulman) is that retrogrades point to past life situations. Now, astrology itself seems to point to past life situations and the existence of past lives; you can see this if you look at charts long enough. How, after all, are human traits distributed so unevenly, yet with such precision? (Okay, the gods are demented, but we already knew that.)
While past lives are not proven, a lot of us have examples and experiences of familiarity with people, talents and events that strongly suggest something is up. Retrograde planets can point to places where this effect is especially strong. So, look for both talents and hang-ups (unresolved situations) where these planets appear in the chart. These can be fairly extreme—brilliant gifts and mastery or extreme difficulties with certain situations that seem to recur.
In the instance of you and your daughter, there is a double parallel: both of you have Saturn retrograde (to give one example) and both of you have Capricorn on your house of partnerships, relationships and marriage. Do you see any parallels between your relationship life and hers? Do you notice a particular attachment to the past, or tradition, or to conservative partners?
If you work with these ideas, you can deduce the message of the retrograde.
One last note. When attempting to get the feel of retrogrades, I suggest you take a look at the secondary progressions. These track the planets at the rate of one day of real time, starting at birth, for each year of life. Hence if you're 30, your secondary progressions are the chart for your 30th day of life. Here is the question to check out: is a planet that's retrograde in the natal chart still retrograde in the progressed chart?
If not, how many days after birth did it go direct? That translates to a year when there was some action, experience or insight around this particular retrograde. Now the same holds true for direct planets, which can turn retrograde by progression.
Interpreting charts is an art and not a science, so you have to look, see, feel and reflect—and ask people their actual experiences.