My mom became my spiritual hero in my teenage years through mango salsa and a bag of tortilla chips.

After a long day of work for her and a long day of school for me, we would both find ourselves hungry for an afternoon snack. Mom would grab chips and salsa and sit in the living room to rest. I would follow her. I came for the food but I stayed for the conversation.

One Way to Connect with Your Teen

This world is pressing against your teenager, clamoring for his or her attention.

When I was a teenager I was much more interested in pleasing my friends than my parents, which could have easily turned into a scary scenario. Often, the more you as parents push to hang out, the more your teen pushes away from you.

One idea about parenting that I love is called the "back door." It was developed by counselors and authors Melissa Trevathan and Sissy Goff. The theory is that to the degree kids can predict you, they will dismiss you.

My mom never told me, "It's time to sit down and tell me about your day." I would have rolled my eyes and ignored her. But what she did was make herself available every day at 3 p.m., and she listened.

I didn't know it at the time, but we built a strong relationship through hanging out. Unplanned and unannounced, we would sit and chat. And over time, those chats around chips and salsa affected me for the rest of my life.

How to Open Up Lines of Communication

She listening to me made our afternoon snack date go from a one-time thing to an everyday occurrence.

She would listen, which allowed the lines of communication to be open between us. I could ask her all types of questions: the silly and the serious. She never jumped to conclusions, she did not assume I was doing the worst, and she did not offer unwanted advice. But because she listened and trusted me, and I asked for her opinion.

Even more than that, I trusted her insight and knew she understood what I was talking about.

Why Imperfection is Sometimes a Necessity

I love my parents, but they were far from perfect. The best lessons my parents have taught me came from their moments of imperfection, and realizing they did not have it all together.

I believe knowing your own imperfection is the basis of being a spiritual guide to your teenager. Your child needs to know there is a pure and true love beyond what you can offer.

Your need for Jesus shows them whom to seek. Allowing your teenager to seek Him first is the most important part of being a spiritual hero, because Christ goes beyond your own ability.

Article courtesy of Parenting Teens magazine.

Catherine Godwin is a senior at Auburn University majoring in human development and family studies. In addition to her passion for working with children, she also enjoys traveling, cooking and reading.