Early mother-infant interactions begin by the mother adding meaning to the child’s behaviours which move on to mutual adjustment of emotions. As exchanges increase, then the interactions begin to be experienced as the infant begins to understand the presence of intentions and minds in other people. Mother-infant interaction begins to have significance called “shared experience of emotions (mind)” that is essential for affective development of infants or the personality formation.
The important qualitative aspect of mother infant interaction will have already been established by the time the infant begins to interact with others using words during the second half of the two years since birth.
Let us think about this in relation to the tasks of psychological development during this phase based on Erikson’s theory. It is well known that Erikson stated that the task of psychological development for the fist year of life is to gain basic trust and the task around the age of two is to gain autonomy. Erikson says that these tasks for development are achieved through an appropriate parenting environment for the infant, namely, a qualitatively favourable maternal relationship. What is a “favourable maternal relationship”? Actually, this does not imply a one-sided relationship offered by the mother. Rather, as put it, it signifies the reciprocating relationship that psychologically rewards the parent as well when the infant expresses emotions in response to the mother’s response. This is no different from the development of healthy mother-infant interactions mentioned earlier.
Therefore, maternal relationships required for the infant to develop basic trust and to perform tasks of psychological development imply repeatedly shared experiences of the infant asking for something. The parent fulfilling this need and the parent being fulfilled by seeing the infant fulfilled. Because there is such a reciprocal aspect to the mother-infant relationship, an intimate relationship where the mother and child are a pair.
Anyone would admit that a good parenting environment is essential for the healthy development of a child’s body and mind. However, in our society today, people have started to recognize the wrongfulness of burdening the mother with the entire responsibility to create a good parenting environment. The most significant problem ought to be the fact that realistic measures in response to the rapidly declining parenting function in local areas due to reduced birth rates are overdue , while delusions that women can naturally carry out parenting when they give birth to a child remain unexamined.
The heavier burden of parenting a mother carries amidst the trend toward the nuclear family. This may reflect the reality that the father cannot take on the role expected of him in accordance with the changes in family structures. It is clear fathers are not commonly involved with parenting in Japan from surveys that have been conducted in Japan and overseas.
For example, a basic survey on social life showed that even the generation of fathers that is most involved with parenting (25–29 years of age) spend only few minutes on an average each day “parenting” and for mothers that is most involved with parenting spend several hours on each day “ parenting”. A survey conducted to determine the reasons for such little involvement in parenting on the part of men disclosed three primary reasons: “business with work,” “views of gender roles” (men are to work and women are to take care of the home), and“father’s views of children” (for example, people who think “children will grow without parents” are less involved with parenting). All three reasons are greatly affected by our social model. What jumps into a clinician’s eyes first in clinical psychology is the presence of a mother heavily involved with her children’s problems. However, in clinical experience, such cases are most often not free of the problem of poor parenting function on the father’s part.
Family is the strongest co-operator of cares surrounding children. Even family members who do not directly affect the act of raising children have important roles of supporting the family member with the heaviest parenting burden.
In addition, there is a multifarious system that supports the relationship between a parent-child pair. It may also be important to look around the surrounding environment of the parent-child relationship that needs to change and consider supportive resources that could be used.