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Dolly Parton Opens Up About Not Having Children With Husband Carl Dean

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Dolly Parton’s musical breakthrough occurred with the release of “Jolene” and a series of other hits such as “I Will Always Love You” and “Coat of Many Colors.” Beyond her illustrious career, the 77-year-old has found enduring happiness in her marriage to Carl Dean, which began in 1966.

Remarkably, after 57 years together, Parton and her husband still boast one of Hollywood’s strongest relationships, prioritizing their private lives despite the demands of her celebrated career. However, the singer has faced persistent inquiries about her choice not to have children. In a recent interview, the Country Music Hall of Famer candidly addressed her decision to forgo motherhood.

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Dolly Parton says having children would have affected her career

THE LIBRARY THAT DOLLY BUILT, Dolly Parton, 2020. © Abramorama / Courtesy Everett Collection

During her discussion with Saga Magazine,  Parton shared that when she embarked on her marital journey, the prospect of having children didn’t hold the same significance for her as it did for others. “When you’re a young couple, you think you’re going to have kids,” she explained. “But it just wasn’t one of those burning things for me.”

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RELATED: Dolly Parton Gets Emotional Remembering One Christmas When Her Mother Got No Gifts

She further revealed that her decision not to have children was because of the impact it would have had on her career. “I had a window to have a child, but [at] the end of the day, I loved working, and I grew up with great parents who sacrificed everything for me,” Parton admitted. “If I’d had kids, I’d have stayed at home with them, I’m sure, and worried myself to death about them. With everything that’s going on, I’d hate to be bringing a child into this world right now.”

STRAIGHT TALK, Dolly Parton, 1992. ph. Don Smetzer / © Buena Vista / courtesy Everett Collection

She does not regret her decision to forgo motherhood

Parton openly shared that contrary to her initial expectations, she harbors no regrets about choosing not to have children of her own due to her active pursuit of her career. “I haven’t missed it like I thought I might,” the 77-year-old noted. “I had my career and my music, and I was traveling.”

THE LIBRARY THA” DOLLY BUILT, Dolly Parton reading to children at the Library of Congress (February 27, 2018) in celebration of the 100 millionth book that Partons Imagination Library has sent to children, 2020. © Abramorama / Courtesy Everett Collection

The entertainer-turned-philanthropist amusingly expressed that she considers herself a mother to numerous children thanks to her Imagination Library initiative, which provides books to children from birth until they begin school. “I always say God didn’t let me have children so that all kids could be mine,” Parton confessed.

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