We unschool two of our kids, and home school two of them. Until fairly recently (6 months or so), this set up worked well for our family. Oldest Daughter was a post child for unschooling, eager to learn, intense, self motivated, she sought out opportunities to learn. She's been driven to the point of perfection, she'd push herself to learn new skills, often practicing until she was in tears. We've worked with her very hard to find ways balance her drive with to be perfect so she has realistic goals. She's had a therapist to help with her anxiety for the last four years.
For example, last year Oldest Daughter wanted to take cooking and art lessons. She found a neighbor who is an artist and a chef, she arranged to trade baby sitting for lessons. They both seemed fairly happy with the arrangement. However over the past few months, Oldest Daughter complained of being sick when it was time to baby sit, she had the "stomach bug". The teacher allowed her to continue with the lessons even though she hadn't worked, so Oldest Daughter owes several hours of sitting. Since Oldest Daughter has always been reliable and responsible, it never occur ed to me she might be lying. I feel horrible that I haven't been paying that close of attention, I just had a baby in December and I returned to work in February.
This week it all came to a head when Oldest Daughter flatly refused to baby sit. I tried reasoning with her, talking about why she needed to fulfill her obligations and that the teacher was depending on her. I did make her call the teacher and tell her why she wasn't working and made her find a replacement who was acceptable to the teacher. Luckily, Oldest Son was happy to have the work and the teacher and her kids adore him, the kids actually prefer him to Oldest Daughter. In addition, DH and I had Oldest Daughter pay the teacher for the hours she owed her and write a letter of apology. Oldest Daughter has to work off the money we fronted her to pay back the teacher. She's not happy about it. Right now, four or five days later, she is mad at DH and I, the teacher, and her brother.
DH gently brought it to my attention that Oldest Daughter has been slowly slaking off over the past 6 months or so. It's at the point were, she mostly reads romance books and listens to music. I can't remember the last time she did an art project, researched something or even read a decent (literature wise) book, may be December? She asked to take a break from her on line classes in December with the understanding that she would keep doing her math and history on her own, she has not. I realize I'm at fault for not monitoring her more closely, but she was always the one kid I never had worry about. The truth is she's bored, disengaged, and miserable. I don't think she's depressed, the therapist says she isn't. I understand that Oldest Daughter probably needed a break, but she's past the point of a break and is sliding into lethargy and boredom.
DH wants to homeschool (as opposed to unschooling her) for the next year or two. He feels she needs more structure and interaction, the therapist agrees. The thing is Oldest Daughter is ahead academically, she reads and comprehends at a college level, she just finished on line classes for geometry and algebra II. DH is a big believer in natural consequences and he thinks she's lost the "right" to unschool. Though, he also feels we are to blame as her parents it is our responsibility to make sure she is okay. I feel he is right, about us being to blame and her needing to be home schooled. I'm sometimes blinded by my life long desire to unschool the kids. I feel like we've failed her as her parents. DH usually follows my lead when it comes to the kids' education. This is the first time, he's ever questioned whether we are handling things in the best interest of the child.
Thoughts? Ideas? Are we being too hard on her? DH isn't Oldest Daughter's biological father, he adopted her 9 years ago when we go married. He's afraid she'll be angry at him, they are close now, but originally got off to a rocky start. I've always been the heavy when it comes to Oldest Daughter.