This is part of an occasional series (currently it’s weekly) exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series.
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
Distractions are, well, distracting. But, what if what one thought was a distraction was actually what should be the main focus? Surely, C.S. Lewis, the author of the great children’s series about Narnia loved being around children and said the above statement. Check out the quotations below to find the surprising answer to what he really thought about kids (it may not be too surprising if you know Lewis very well). As for this expression, you’ve probably caught on that the above picture already reveals it wasn’t from Lewis. Unfortunately there are many that believe this MUST be from Lewis. In fact, as recently as 7/23/2015 Focus on the Family shared it on their Facebook page crediting Lewis as the author.
We know, however, that Dr. John Trainer is the creator of that expression. I’m very certain of this because he’s provided proof of this fact. I caught up with him on Facebook and learn that on December 30, 2012 he shared this expression in a group chat with some friends. He related to me that he had just come up with the quotation earlier in the day and shared it with the group.
WHAT LEWIS SAID THAT’S RELATED (or closest to it):
“I theoretically hold that one ought to like children, but am shy with them in practice.”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 2 (to Arthur Greeves on 12/7/1935)
“I myself do not enjoy the society of small children…I recognize this as a defect in myself.”
from The Abolition of Man, chapter 1
“I myself find prayers without words the best, when I can manage it, but I can do so only when least distracted and in best spiritual and bodily health (or what I think best).”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3 (to Mary Van Deusen on 7/14/1952)
“The devil is fond of distracting us from our plain daily duties by suggesting vague and rather faddy ones, you know.”
from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3 (to Michael Edwards on 10/20/1956)
The next quote examined is: