Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Child Became a Teenager • Gary Chapman

October 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2507-2

Help your child navigate the teenage years and become a mature adult.

The transition from childhood to adulthood is hard for everyone. Physical changes—on the inside as well as the outside—make for a lot of ups and downs. The teenage years are turbulent, no question about it. But if you’re a parent or caregiver, don’t despair. There’s a way through!

Gary Chapman, beloved author of The 5 Love Languages®, has raised two kids of his own, so he knows what it’s like to ride the roller coaster of parenting teens. Now he combines the hard-earned wisdom of a parent with the expertise of a counselor to help you know what to look out for. You’ll learn:

  • That teens are still developing the ability to think logically
  • That teens need to learn how to apologize and forgive
  • And most importantly, that a parent’s example is more important that their words

Though the years ahead will be demanding, you don’t have to feel helpless. Let Gary Chapman point the way you as you guide your child through this challenging yet rewarding new stage of life.


Married more than 45 years to Karolyn, Dr. Gary Chapman is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over forty years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The 5 Love Languages®: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Millions of readers credit this continual #1 New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate their love to their partner.

Since the success of his first book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his 5 Love Languages® series to specifically reach out to teens, singles, men, and children.

He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing, including Anger, The Family You’ve Always Wanted, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, Desperate Marriages, God Speaks Your Love Language, Parenting Your Adult Child, and Hope for the Separated. He coauthored The Five Languages of Apology with Dr. Jennifer Thomas.

Chapman speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 400 stations. Dr. Chapman also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Dr. Chapman and his wife have two adult children and two grandchildren, and currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


No one told me that something happens in the brains of children when they become teenagers. I was not prepared for this reality. I had assumed that the seven years between thirteen and twenty would simply be a continuation of the slow, predictable pattern of growth observed in childhood. I was not ready for the explosions, the emotional mood swings, and the unpredictable behavior.

If you read my earlier book Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Became Parents, you will know that Karolyn and I have two children, four years apart in age. They were very different in the way they processed life as teenagers, which leads me to a fundamental observation. There is no one pattern that can be applied to all teenagers. However, there are common physical, emotional, and neurological changes taking place in the teenage years.

Everyone agrees that the teenage years are extremely important in transitioning from childhood to young adulthood. The decisions that are made during these formative years will greatly impact the individual for the rest of their life. We are all keenly aware that some teens choose destructive lifestyles that impair their cognitive and physical abilities, which sometimes leads to an early death. This is one of the great tragedies of modern Western culture.

I also think most people agree that parents play a key role in the life of their teenagers. Absentee or abusive parents have a profound negative influence on the teen’s behavior. At the same time, parents who are deeply committed to each other and are sincerely trying to give guidance to their teenager have a profound positive influence on the teen.

Please don’t hear me saying that if parents do their job right, the teen will automatically become a responsible adult. We all know teens who grew up in loving, supportive families who made poor decisions that resulted in devastating consequences. Many of these parents have sat in my counseling office through the years. Their most common response is, “What did we do wrong?” Their assumption is that if they had done parenting well, their teen would not have made such decisions. The reality is that teens are human, and humans are free to make decisions, some of which result in much pain. Accepting this reality does not erase the pain, but does lead us to rise above our present discouragement and ask, “What can we do to help now?” Assuming the teen is alive, there is always the hope of redeeming the future.

Acknowledging the reality of human freedom does not diminish the fact that parents do play a major role in helping the teen process life in a positive manner.