The Growth of Love

Understanding the five essential elements of child development

Keith White

£12.99 Add to basket Buy now

Every page of this book is worth reading - you will nod in recognition, or hold your breath in revelation.
Sir Richard Bowlby


For all who care for children, whether in a professional or voluntary capacity, this book examines the care needed for a child to develop into mature adulthood.

Keith White identifies five essential elements for child development and the growth of love. There are many insights from foster care and the resources and experience of the Christian faith.

The five elements identified as essential to child development are: Security (a secure base) Boundaries (moral, consistent) Significance (identity and recognition) Community (peers, associations) Creativity (opportunities for play and making).

The encouraging feature of the book is the realization that these five elements for love can be found in the most unlikely places and situations, and where they are present, in whatever form, love is able to grow.

Find out more about the Companion book to The Growth of Love - Reflections on Living with Children

View items in similar categories


Every page of this book is worth reading - you will nod in recognition, or hold your breath in revelation.
Sir Richard Bowlby

The Growth of Love is at the centre of what childcare needs to be about.
Dr Chris Hanvey, Childrenwebmag

It is a remarkable piece of work, covering a wide range of disciplines...I hope the book will have a major impact on the way people understand the development of children.
David Lane, CCCF Annual Conference 2008

Author info

Dr Keith J White is Director of Mill Grove where, with his wife Ruth, he is responsible for a residential community caring for children who have experienced separation and loss. He is well versed in the literature of child development and psychiatry. His first degree was in English Literature and he has researched residential child care in Scotland, and later in India. He is former president of the UK Social Care Association and Chair of the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations. Currently, Keith is an Associate Lecturer at Spurgeon's College, and Visiting Lecturer in Child Theology at the Malaysian Baptist Theological Seminary. He is Chair the Child Theology Movement.


From The Good Bookstall - 28 May 2011

The forward being written by the great Sir Richard Bowlby immediately indicates that this is a book that students connecting child care and theology will want to read. However, White himself downplays his academic contribution on the basis that it is the reflections of a practitioner rather than a substantial research project. Over a hundred years of the White family's lives have been spent in community with damaged children at Mill Grove, the home at the centre of the book. Therefore White has both depth and humanity to offer the reader in this exploration of child development, not a process to be copied but rather a way of life that allows love to grow.

Reviewed by Naomi Nixon

From Triple Helix - Easter 2009

At a time when solutions to manage troubled children and teenagers vacillate between liberal and punitive extremes, this book challenges contemporary views of childcase to provide a secure framework for enabling children to develop their full potential as people made in God's image.

Dr White draws on a lifetime's experience of working alongside children and young people who have known separation and loss. He applies expertise in theology and psychosocial theory, underpinned by biblical understanding and living faith, to develop five essential elements of development.

These are: security in the knowledge they are loved; clear boundaries for behavior that leave them free to explore; assurance of their worth and significance; including in nurturing communities that enable them to flourish; and an environment with opportunities for creative play, worship and recreation. The children's stories make this enjoyable as well as informative. Despite being erudite and far-reaching, this book is very readable. All involved in parenting, teaching or pastoral care of children within and outside the Christian community will gain new insights from it.

Reviewed by Kirsty Saunders.

From The Church Times - September 2008

The Growth of Love is a moving description, heavily informed by psychological insight, of the author's lifetime commitment to Mill Grove, described as a Christian therapeutic residential community for children in need.

For decades, dyslexic children were regarded as not very bright, ADHD children were deemed to be naughty, and children on the autistic spectrum were seen as odd. Keith White's focus is on attachment disorder: on children whose chaotic upbringing leads them to distrust, and even destroy, any attempt by others to establish meaningful relationships. It makes sobering reading.

Reviewed by Dennis Richards

Children Webmag - July 2008

The Growth of Love has recently been reviewed by Chris Hanvey in the Children Webmag. If you'd like to read the review, please visit the Children Webmag website at

Children Webmag - June 2008

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857460752
  • Published: 23 May 2008
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
LWND app Advert
Messy Church resources