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“It’s like we’re connected.”

Maybe you’ve seen the auto-insurance commercial about  a younger fellow with long hair and a stocking cap who has just rear-ended an older, business-suited man’s car.   In exchanging insurance information, the two discover that they share not only the same company, but the same agent.  “It’s like we’re connected,” observes the younger man with zen-like pleasure.  “No, we’re not,” protests the other, obviously not liking that idea at all.  But as the younger man’s facial expression points out, there’s no denying it. 

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In somewhat the same way,  being born the first female in our families is a connector that’s not always or immediately apparent.

I’ve been surprised to realize the number of oldest daughters in my life.

  • My first housemates after college were all oldest daughters.  So were the four of us who subsequently shared an apartment.

That common characteristic was not realized, I’m fairly sure, at the time.  But it’s continued to be a fact in the people with whom I find myself associating.

  •   Four out of the five women in my original writer’s group were first-born females.
  • Six out of the eight women in the movie group my husband I belonged to were oldest daughters.
  • The majority of my close friends, business associates and colleagues in education fall in the same category.

In none of these situations has our family position been identified or discussed beforehand.  But our similar experiences, expectations, resulting feelings and personality traits have come to light in the course of conversations.

It’s those common connections that led me several years ago to begin researching this topic.  As one person I interviewed told me, “It’s like at some level we simply recognize each other.”

Hello world!

Friendship is born at the moment when one (woman) says to another, What? You too?  I thought that no one but myself …—  a slightly modified observation from C.S. Lewis’ book, The Four Loves

Over breakfast at a favorite neighborhood deli some years ago a long-time friend and I made a surprising discovery about each other.  We are both the oldest child in our families.  Which means we are also each the oldest daughter in our families.  We began to talk about why that was important. For the next two hours that day, stories about our first-child/oldest-daughter experiences poured out and spilled over like coffee from the pot of our distracted waitress.  We commiserated so totally with each other that by late morning when we left, we laughingly considered forming an ODA — an Oldest Daughters Anonymous group.   That never happened.

What did happen is that I began researching the topic of oldest daughters and spent the next ten years writing a book about us.  I heard from several hundred survey participants and conducted personal interviews with more than one hundred first-born females and family members.   And now I want to continue the conversation through this website and blog.

Patricia Schudy