What to Do about Dad Burnout: An Interview with Dr. Hernán Guadalupe | SoundVision.com

What to Do about Dad Burnout: An Interview with Dr. Hernán Guadalupe

In our modern capitalistic society, the expectations placed on parents to be both providers and loving caretakers are immense. Far from the traditional gender roles of our grandparents and great-grandparents, today's mothers and fathers are faced with the daunting task of juggling work, raising children, managing the home, and striving for a Pinterest-worthy lifestyle. Muslim fathers bear a heavy burden as the major breadwinners in most cases, providing for the family while also being present in their children's lives. It is no wonder that the threat of burn-out looms over many fathers, threatening to diminish their well-being and hinder their ability to thrive and provide. 

To shed light on this pressing issue, we interviewed Dr. Hernán Guadalupe, an engineer supervisor, a professor of emotional intelligence, a martial arts instructor, and a seasoned father of six. Dr. Guadalupe graciously shared his insights on what triggers burn-out, how fathers can prevent feeling overwhelmed, actions that promote self-care, personal strategies for dealing with frustration, and valuable advice for fathers who find themselves teetering on the edge. 

Join us as we delve into the realm of dad burn-out and uncover practical wisdom from an experienced educator and father.

Q: What are some common triggers or factors that contribute to "dad burn-out" or feeling overwhelmed?

As an engineer supervisor, employee burnout is a significant challenge that managers must address in the workplace. Dealing with employees who are overwhelmed or dissatisfied with their jobs may have impacts on team performance, working relationships with stakeholders, and project deliverables.

As a dad, I sometimes experience similar “burn-out” triggers or factors that can impact family cohesiveness, dynamics, and activities. It is no surprise that raising a family is challenging and stressful while also being beautiful and rewarding. Overworking, a lack of control, a lack of feeling rewarded, miscommunication between children and spouse, lack of support, and being misunderstood are some burn-out factors in parenting that seem to coincide with the workplace.   

Q: What are some signs or symptoms that indicate a father may be experiencing burn-out?

Some signs or symptoms that may indicate burn-out are laziness, lack of confidence, feeling defeated, a feeling of detachment, a lack of motivation, giving up, and the feeling of failure. If a parent doesn’t seem to care or put their best effort forward, especially during the not-so-rewarding moments such as discipline, maintaining a clean home, laundry, changing diapers, for example, then that can be a sign of a bigger problem. Not every daddy-duty will be fun and exciting. Sometimes we have to roll up our sleeves and deal with poo to put it nicely, but that is part of the gig we signed up for when deciding to start a family. Nonetheless, it can be difficult, so if we have no desire to do anything and crash on the couch with no motivation, then we may be experiencing burn-out.

Q: How can fathers prevent or manage feelings of overwhelm and burn-out in their everyday lives?

Unfortunately, there is no guide or blueprint for perfect parenting. We will face significant challenges when raising our little ones and even as they get older challenges do not go away, they just change. We have to find ways to manage our feelings and prevent burn-out.

The first, as simple as it may be, is always remind yourself that being a father is a blessing from Allah. There are so many men that cannot experience fatherhood. We are gifted these little humans, so it is an amanah (a trust) from Allah. While it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times, and take a time out, we cannot fully give in and give up. Their lives and health depend on us. So, remind yourself that they are our blessing from Allah.

Secondly, taking time to learn about our emotions (i.e., improving our own emotional intelligence and self-awareness) will help us recognize those instances when we feel an emotional mood shift or bodily reaction. When we feel a shift in our emotions, it’s important to learn to recognize them and label them to keep us aware and categorize them to prevent us from exceeding emotional limitations that may be detrimental to our health or the health of our loved ones, God forbid.

Third, balance your responsibilities. We do not have to be Super Dad at all times. We can pace our household responsibilities to make them more manageable. We should include our family members in our responsibilities as best as we can. Try to make these activities learning opportunities to teach valuable lessons such as organization, independence, collaboration, leadership, and communication. There is a proverb that states:

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. 

If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

If we include our children in our tasks and chores, then they will learn valuable lessons and will offset the feeling of being overloaded and overworked.

Lastly, take time for yourself daily. We all need a break to unwind and reset. Our mental health is so important. We should prioritize and invest in ourselves as much as possible.

Q: What are effective strategies or actions fathers can take to prioritize self-care and well-being?

Self-care comes in so many forms nowadays. As a man, I invest in self-care through physical activity and exercise such as martial arts. This gives me an avenue to channel my stress and reset mentally. Find something that makes you happy that does not require anyone’s help or input such as reading, listening to an audio book, meditating, taking a nap, or watching your favorite show. Self-care can be anything that you find happiness and contentment in doing. 

Q: How important is communication and support from partners, family members, or friends in preventing burn-out? Any advice on fostering that support system?

In the workplace, communication is key to ensure successful team dynamics and project success. In doing my doctoral dissertation on design management processes to mitigate design flaws, one key component is communication between all parties involved in the process. You find a similar need to communicate effectively in parenting. Communication is needed to identify criteria, define parameters, understand expectations, and develop a chain of command. Communication within the family unit is no different. Parents need to be in sync to maximize success. If we are not on the same page, then it is a formula for disaster. 

Unfortunately, men do not ask for help as much as they should. Traditionally, men are often the problem-solvers and depend on reasoning to determine practical solutions to problems they face. While being self-autonomous and independent is commendable, we also need support and guidance. The truth is we do not have all the answers. We need to learn to ask for and accept help. Establishing a strong support network and communicating will help mitigate burn-out. 

Q: How do you personally deal with frustration or moments of overwhelm as a father?

In moments of frustration or when feeling overwhelmed, I do my best to stay calm, breathe, and remind myself of the blessing of being a father. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. Allah knows that I am not the perfect example of fatherhood, but there are moments when you look at your children and remember how much you love and cherish them. That feeling must overpower the feeling of frustration.

Parenting is not simple. It requires a lot of patience, hard work, and sacrifice. There will be as many difficulties as moments of bliss, but remember Allah’s statement,

“With hardship comes ease.” 

(Surah Ash-Sharh, 94:6)

That moment of frustration is just a fraction of time that will eventually pass. It is not permanent. There will be so many more moments of joy and happiness. We have to learn to roll with the punches and look forward to brighter days.

Q: What advice would you give to fathers who feel like they are close to the edge and need support in preventing burn-out?

I would advise them to not give in to their feelings of being overwhelmed. We should learn from the best example, our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who was patient and kind with his loved ones. The messenger of Allah said:

“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” 


Being a father is a blessing decreed by Allah. We should cherish this blessing. Also, take time for yourself. We do not have to be selfless at all times. It is completely fine to be a little selfish and take care of yourself. If doing so will help you be a better father and husband, then do it. Communicate with your spouse or co-parent to balance the workload and solicit each other’s support. Work as a team, if possible. If you are a single father, then reach out to other family members and friends for help and support, even if it is just to vent.

Realize that one day, our nest will be empty as our children will become adults and start their own independent journeys. Cherish these moments as they are limited and short in time relative to the great scheme of life. Is it worth feeling down and defeated? We will miss the good times if we just dwell on the bad.

Like Dr. Guadalupe, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was a loving father and yet the busiest father we could imagine. He was commissioned as a messenger of Allah to lead his people, educate them on matters of faith and everyday life, and to receive and relay to them revelation. On top of that, he was a political leader whose life was documented from the most minute of details. He never complained of burn-out, and until his last breath, he was concerned about the welfare of his community. Nevertheless, we read about ways in which the Prophet, enjoyed himself, through playing with his family, racing with his wives, joking with his companions, and by keeping a smile on his blessed face. He advised his companions to never overburden themselves: 

“Verily, your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you.” 


By maintaining a balanced life, effectively communicating their needs, and actively engaging in acts of self-care, fathers can navigate the challenges of modern parenting, avoid burnout, and create a nurturing environment for their families to thrive.

Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.

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