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Dolly Parton opens up about not having children with husband Carl Dean: 'It wasn't one of those burning things'

The '9 to 5' singer married husband Carl in 1966

Dolly Parton in a sequin mini dress
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
23 December 2023
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Dolly Parton might be seen as a motherly figure for all, but the '9 to 5' singer has never welcomed her own child, and in a new interview with Saga magazine, the star has opened up about the decision.

When asked if she regrets the decision, Dolly explained: "I haven't missed it like I thought I might. When you're a young couple, you think you're going to have kids, but it just wasn't one of those burning things for me. I had my career and my music and I was travelling. If I'd had kids, I'd have stayed at home with them. I'm sure and worried myself to death about them."

Dolly Parton in a white embellished dress© David Becker
Dolly opened up about not having children

She added: "With everything that's going on, I'd hate to be bringing a child into this world right now! I always say God didn't let me have children so that all kids could be mine."

Dolly has previously thought that children would be on the cards for her, telling Billboard in a 2014 interview: "Early on, when my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids. We weren't doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would. We even had names if we did, but it didn't turn out that way."

Dolly Parton speaks onstage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California© Getty Images
Dolly initially thought she would have her own children

The 77-year-old continued: "Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, 'Aren't you glad we didn't have kids? Now we don't have kids to worry about.'"

The singer's health has also been a barrier as she was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 35. The condition means tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows elsewhere in the body, causing extreme pain. People with endometriosis can struggle to fall pregnant, with stats revealing 30–50% of people with endometriosis find it hard to get pregnant.

Dolly Parton in a white dress© Picture Perfect/Shutterstock
Dolly's health has also prevented her from welcoming children

Dolly went on to have a partial hysterectomy when she was 36 meaning she wouldn't be able to have children naturally. Her operation seriously impacted her, and writing in her book she shared: "Suddenly I was a middle-aged woman. I went through a dark time."

Although Dolly and Carl never welcomed any children, it's clear this hasn't had an impact on their marriage, which has lasted for over 50 years, with the pair tying the knot in 1966.

WATCH: All you need to know about Dolly Parton's love story

During an appearance on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2, Dolly admitted that Carl doesn't "volunteer" honest answers but he does share his opinion when asked.

"Not in a cruel way! But if I ask him if he likes my hair – 'too stringy for me' or 'it looks too important' - you know like if it's too stiff... he always calls it that, 'It looks too important', but I know if I ask him - he won't just volunteer it - but if I ask him he'll tell me the truth," she explained.

Carl dean and dolly parton© REX/Shutterstock
Dolly's husband usually stays out of the spotlight

In fact, she credited their mutual openness as the secret to their happy relationship. "We've been together 59 [years], we dated two years, and then we just celebrated our 57th anniversary on May the 30th."

But I think so much of it is the fact that we are honest and open and we have a warped sense of humour! He is crazy, he is so funny and clever. And I have a great sense of humour from both sides of my family so I think the humour has always been good. But there's the respect and the love and I just like him!

Dolly Parton's family photo© Instagram
Dolly came from a large family

"You know, I would have liked him if he wasn't my husband, if he was somebody else's husband I say, 'You know that Carl Dean, ain't he funny? Ain't he a good guy?', so think it’s just that mutual respect and we just like each other," she said.

SEE: Dolly Parton has short cropped hair and the biggest smile in must-see childhood photo

WOW: Dolly Parton, 77, sends the crowd wild in Dallas as she defies her years in Cowboys cheerleading outfit

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