Dolly Parton Says Not Having Kids Allowed Her to Focus on Her Career

Dolly Parton and husband Carl Dean have been married for 54 years, though they have never had any children together. In a recent conversation with Oprah Winfrey during an episode of Apple TV+'s The Oprah Conversation, Parton shared that she believes she wasn't meant to have kids for a few reasons.

"Since I had no kids, and my husband was pretty independent, I had freedom," she said. "So I think a big part of my whole success is the fact that I was free to work." Parton continued, "I didn't have children because I believed that God didn't mean for me to have kids so everybody's kids could be mine, so I could do things like Imagination Library because if I hadn't had the freedom to work, I wouldn't have done all the things I've done. I wouldn't be in a position to do all of the things I'm doing now."

The Grammy winner founded her Imagination Library program in 1995, and it has since gifted millions of young children around the world with books to promote literacy. The organization currently spans four countries and mails a free book to over one million children worldwide each month.

When Winfrey asked Parton whether she believes her career has included more sacrifices or rewards, Parton replied, "I've made sacrifices, but I think, like I said, I believe what I know I'm supposed to do."

The Tennessee native's legendary career has now spanned over half a century, but Parton said that she doesn't "think about my life in terms of numbers."

"First of all, I ain't never gonna be old because I ain't got time to be old. I can't stop long enough to grow old," she laughed, adding that she wants to be "the best I can be at whatever age."

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"I bet you I won't look much different when I'm 95 if I live that long because I'm like the Gabor sisters," she joked, referring to the late Hungarian socialites. "I'm gonna look like a cartoon. I'll have on the makeup. I'll look as young as my plastic surgeons will allow me and [with] all the makeup and lighting and all that. But I think more than anything; it's about what comes from inside you."

"It's an attitude, and you gotta shine from within," she added. "Sometimes, that can make you feel young and make you seem young to other people."