Primum non nocere, butter, and honey

Today when we came out of Costco where we were shopping for groceries, some said something that caused two of my daughters to almost simultaneously break out into a song from “Anne of Green Gables: the Musical.” I loved hearing them sing the upbeat song together, and I smiled and enjoyed the moment.

First do no harm

It reminded me of the gift of wonderful music as well as the phrase “First do no harm.” Not too long ago, I heard this phrase in conjunction with the Hippocratic Oath (the oath medical students historically take when becoming physicians). Upon reading a little about the oath, I learned that the oath was written in Greek, and so this Latin phrase (Primum non nocere, or “First do no harm”) didn’t come from the oath, but is apparently taught to healthcare students along with the oath.

Feed only good

I have been thinking about this idea recently in the context of what we feed children’s minds. We have such an opportunity to nurture our children’s minds and hearts for good, and it seems to me that this phrase is one of the measuring sticks that I use when it comes to evaluating what literature, music, art, media and games I “feed” my children. If a book (or song, or movie, etc.) contains something that could harm one of my children, then it shouldn’t have a place in my home.

There is enough really good stuff in the world that we don’t need to feed our children the mediocre.

Lyrics and tunes

I am particularly mindful of lyrics to music. Why? The songs I listened to as a child are played back in my mind whenever I hear that song in any setting: an airport, a dentist office, a supermarket. Music is powerful stuff. So I didn’t need any research to tell me that lyrics and tunes stay with us. I believed that “data in data out” (or harvesting what you sow) would be real in the lives of my children. And considering the limitless potential that each of our children has, I monitored what they listened to and read and watched very carefully. I wanted to feed them only the best I could find.

Guideposts and letting go

When our oldest, Sarah, passed through the magical stage of 8-12 years old, I think I began to recognize that our children would have to start making choices on their own more, with guidance and encouragement. We put certain guideposts in place–such as trying not to have any music with unkind or rude language in it. We have a rule in our family that if there is a song that has inappropriate lyrics or cover art, we don’t buy it, or if a child does, my husband or I has the right to delete it from our iTunes library.

Honey and butter

As the children have gotten older and obtained their own digital devices, our control has lessened, as it should. They need to be able to distinguish what is good from what isn’t. They have to evaluate and ask, “How does this book/movie/show/game make me feel? Does it make me want to be better, kinder, more honest and virtuous?” Our children learn that they are responsible for what they put into their own brains and hearts now.

While we don’t generally don’t make decisions for them after they become teenagers, I think our influence continues.  I have seen them come to love (or at least appreciate) many musical genres and choose songs with lyrics that help them want to be good. I worked diligently to provide the “honey and butter” input that would allow them to taste the good so they can know the bad when they “taste” it (see Isaiah 7:15).  I’m grateful for that opportunity to help my children taste the finest literature, art, music, dance, and media that our world has to offer–particularly that which will not harm their precious minds and hearts.


I chose this album for my first ever giveaway because, inspired by my sister, I wanted to share something we love with other families. Go to my Instagram to see details. Giveaway closes 9 pm PST on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

More music recommendations

For more music recommendations, go here. (This is just a tiny little sampling of the music we love. Today I updated my music recommendations page with many of the musicals we love.)

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