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Parents Discuss Talking About Gay Marriage With Their Kids

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Mother Galit Birk has some time before 2-year-old Oren hits her with tough questions about sex, marriage and the complicated places the two sometimes meet. But, with the makeup of families changing, she says she’ll be ready.

“With the numbers of divorces on the rise and some people being raised by a single mom or a single dad and spending half the time at Mom’s house and half the time at Dad’s house, so yeah, I think it’s been changing for a long time,” says Birk,” and now it’s changing even more.”

And nothing sums up that change more than same sex marriage.

President Barack Obama’s recent endorsement of the still-controversial idea has the nation talking –– and that means kids will likely ask questions. Birk says whenever it comes, she’ll be ready.

“He may encounter that, he probably will encounter that, so yes, I want him to be accepting, I want him to be aware, I want him to be comfortable,” she said.

But, many parenting experts say the issue of same sex marriage is an uncomfortable one for many parents; especially those whose religious beliefs are such that marriage is the union of a man and woman.

“Obviously you want them to believe what you believe,” says Melody Brooke, a Lewisville marriage and family therapist. “But, if they make difference choices than you, you want them to know that they’re going to be loved, no matter what.”

Brooke, author of “Oh, Wow… This Changes Everything,” which talks about how awareness and open communication can transform relationships, says parents must first confront their own fears and be comfortable with their own beliefs before attempting to convey those to children.

Brooke also cautions parents with strongly held beliefs to avoid “shoving them” down their kids’ throats, because she says they may tune out and stop listening. One way to begin those tough conversations, she says, is by asking your children what they believe. And then listen.

Jim Swain, a parent of two –– and a person of faith –– admits it’s a tough topic. “We are certainly grounded and solid in what our faith is, and what we believe,” he said.

He believes that marriage is the union of man and woman. But, he’s also teaching tolerance.

“You don’t have to accept something in order to understand it and be tolerant of it, and we try to put those beliefs in our kids,” Swain said.

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