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Archive for January, 2013

A Flag-Waving Day for President Obama and Oldest Daughters

January 22, 2013 4 comments

file8111275178613Today is a proud day for all Americans.  As frequently noted, Inauguration Day celebrates  the peaceful transition/continuation of power that is a hallmark of American freedom.  Today is also a proud day for us as oldest daughters.  As I was watching the coverage of the ceremony on television, I couldn’t help noticing the number of notable women who are the first-born females in their families.  Here’s a partial listing —

First Lady Michelle Obama

Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden

Former First Lady Rosalind Carter

Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan

And the above is just a partial listing.  The number of oldest daughters taking part in the highest echelons of our nation’s leadership is a phenomenon worth scrutinizing and maximizing.

What do you make of it?  Do you notice a pull toward leadership in your own life?  In your family,  job, career, or community?

The Titled Oldest Daughters of Great Britain — and Us

January 20, 2013 5 comments

In both real time and reel time, three royal ladies currently reign supreme in commanding attention on both sides of the Atlantic:  Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland;  the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton; and Lady Mary Crawley of PBS’s Downton Abbey.

The House of Windsor and  PBS conferred their royal titles according to English law and tradition.  However,  it could be said  a higher power bestowed another title on each* of  them first, one  that is literally a birthright — that of Oldest Daughter.

Leave it to the fiction writers, not the historians,  to spell out what that means.  From the PBS Masterpiece Theatre website:  Mary is “a highly capable woman of deep compassion.  But make no mistake about it.  Mary remains the eldest daughter, with all attendant privileges and pressures.”

Mary will inherit Downton according to the English law of primogeniture–the right of the first born to inherit the ancestor’s estate. So far the fictional family has accepted this as the way things are.  But I can’t help wondering if Mary’s younger sibs,  Lady Ethel or Lady Sybil, will ever challenge her privileges.  Or will Mary’s changing circumstances result in feelings that her siblings should be sharing the various  pressures affecting the family?  For those answers, we’ll have to stay tuned.

Meanwhile, back on this side of the pond, primogeniture is not the law.  But how many of us feel we’ve had more privileges and opportunities just because we are oldest daughters?  Or how many of us have complained that as adults we’ve inherited more than our reasonable share of family responsibilities?  I can’t help wondering also how our real-life siblings would answer those questions.

* Queen Elizabeth had one younger sister, Princess Margaret, who died in 2002; the Duchess of Cambridge is older sister to Pippa Middleton; and Lady Mary has two fictional younger sisters.