3551I’ve worked as a news journalist, crime reporter and as a travel writer, crisscrossing the world and now I’m writing on the art of efficient diaper changes, work-life balancing and dads in the days of the Roman Empire. Before I realized it, I’ve even become somewhat of an expert on these subjects. Maybe because not too many (male) journalists consider parenting a subject to earn credits with, but surely because I love the breadth, the emotional meaning, and the topicality of my favorite subject – fatherhood.

Black hole
I started out in my early twenties and by now it’s fairly easy to fill a black hole with all the copy I’ve written. My stories on travel, business, crime and health issues have appeared in Dutch-language magazines such Rails, Panorama, Playboy, Reizen, Elle, De Zaak en Men’s Health. I’ve also written short and long copy for advertising agencies as well as scripts for a number of television shows. Apart from the School for Journalism in Utrecht, I studied drama and documentary at the Film Academy in Amsterdam.

Scared as hell
When my girlfriend Ingrid announced that I was to become a father, I was scared as hell. Until then, the principle governing my love life had been a facsimile of my approach to work. I pursued a freelance career, both as a writer and as a lover. Now there was no way back. I rushed to the book store to find some reassurance, but the few fatherhood books I could find, offered gloomy tips and a hangdog undertone. So I decided to put my annoyance to good use.

Together with a few colleagues, young fathers who had also developed an instant allergy to the average baby book, I set up a website called, or iDad. Becoming or being a father is great, but let’s remain men, was our key message. Want men to be involved in parenthood? Then start communicating in a way that appeals to them. Strip all the diminutives, don’t spill dozens of words on baby blues and other experiences that are exclusive to moms, don’t use the word parents when you only mean mothers, and, most importantly, add humor to make the baby stuff digestible. I wrote articles for the website, as well as columns in magazines — and books.

Your baby, your guru
A theory by Harvard psychologist William Pollack gave me the idea for Baby Management. After studying the connection between the skills of being a good father and a good manager, Pollack concluded: ‘Modern leaders, male and female, need creative vision, emotional flexibility, independent decision-making capacity, along with the ability to work within systems, creative networks and teams. They must also be able to rally support and achieve results in the midst of almost constant organizational change. My consulting experience and research have shown that, for men, those very skills are the ones most successfully learned and mastered by the well-adapted father.’

Authoritative guidebook
So why not develop a book that presents baby care as the management training tool? Baby Management for Men was first published in 2005. The book has become the authoritative guidebook in the Netherlands for men about to become fathers, recommended by obstetricians and midwives.  Fatherhood – and writing Baby Management – did indeed teach me some extra skills. I’ve learned to appreciate new responsibilities, to develop emotional bonds that might last a lifetime, to control anger and, finally, to multi-task. Thanks to my daughter Rosa (10), my son IJsbrand (4) and my girlfriend Ingrid with whom I still share one roof.

Dutch bar
The English edition has been has been translated by Rogier van Bakel, a journalist and a close friend of mine. Years ago he entered an Amsterdam coffeeshop and was asked by a charming American tourist how to tip in a Dutch bar. A surpringly short time later he married the girl, moved to the U.S. where he started publishing for The New York Times, Wired and Playboy. Americanized as he has become, he never succeeded in shedding his lowland stubbornness which, combined with his eloquent style and the fact that he fathers two wonderful young girls, made him perfectly suited for this job.

Henk Hanssen

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