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Father's Day 2010: What Does It Mean to Be a Dad?

A group of dads reflect on their unique and special bond with their children.

ByABC News
June 18, 2010, 5:25 PM

June 18, 2010— -- Josh Kross, a father of three, remembers the first time he watched his father look at his newborn son.

"You sort of know what he must have felt the first time he saw me," Kross said of the birth of his oldest son, Miles, now 5.

The New York City stay-at-home dad sees his kids more than his father saw him, and he said that it makes a difference.

"My middle child knows 200 words and I'm the only one that knows 160 of them," said Kross of Stella, 22 months old.

Kross also is the father of a 4-month-old, Violet.

"The best part of being a dad is seeing how you can make someone infinitely happy just by smiling at them," Kross said.

In the Evolution of Dad, a documentary, filmmaker Dana Glazer explores what it means to be a dad today. The modern dad has evolved from the sometimes-absent breadwinner to the increasingly common stay-at-home dad.

As Father's Day approaches, children, no matter how old, remember riding on their father's shoulders and dancing on his toes. Dads remember those things too, but what really stands out are the unexpected rewards of parenthood.

"He gives me a hug when I'm not expecting it," said Colby Trane, father of 18-month-old Theo. "When I pick him up and he puts his arms around me and pats my back, there's something so incredibly rewarding about that."

Trane, another New Yorker, loves it most when he gets little Theo laughing to the point where he's gasping for air.

Trane's bond with Theo is comparable to the bond between fathers and children seen in nature. Scientific research has shown that lab mice grow extra brain cells when they become dads. The extra brain cells are for dads to be able to create lasting memories with their babies.

Human dads grow new neurons, too, when they become fathers.

"We're very instinctive creatures and there's a lot of programming in there that you really just can't deny," said Jake Ward, editor of Popular Science. "I think any new dad will tell you that there's just something inside that gets triggered when he sees his child for the first time."

Scientists said that fathers develop a sort of affection in response to the smell of their infants, but you don't have to tell any new dad that.

"When you have kids, you realize a love that you never thought possible," said New Yorker Matt Schneider, father of 21-month-old Sam.