Developing "professional love" in early childhood settings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


I reference a popularly-held assumption that attachment relationships in the home and particularly, in most instances, between a mother and her child - are fundamental to the healthydevelopment of young children. Thus, when a mother returns to work following the birth of her baby, the decision-making process about choice of childcare is likely to be difficult and complex. This chapter is based on the findings of a life historical study which examined the policies, practices and relationships which underpinned and influenced the decisions taken by six mothers to return to paid employment when their infants were under 12 months of age. The mothers’ need for their infants to develop close, secure, emotional attachments with other, key adults was an overwhelming concern. My focus is on the mothers’ perceptions of love. When mothers were able to distinguish the mutually-loving attachment between caregiver and their child as an intellectual encounter, complementary to their mother - child relationship, rather than seeking to undermine their own mother-child relationships, they were able effectively to give caregivers the permission they needed to love the children in their care. The study coined the term “professional love” and showed how the issue of love in day care is highly complex. In this chapter, I urge that a space is made for further debate so that “love” can be properly conceptualised, positively valued and appropriately taught with caregivers working in infant -toddler education and care.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLived Spaces of Infant-Toddler Education and Care. International perspectives on early childhood education and developmen
EditorsL. Harrison, J. Sumsion
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789401788380
ISBN (Print)9789401788373
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2014

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development


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