We Love Dolly Parton's Thoughts on Not Having Kids

Ironically, she's so mother for this.

Dolly Parton
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Society has a truly odd relationship with women who don't have children, doesn't it? The amount of importance we place on people with uteruses to have children, want children, and feel sad about not having them, is such a toxic narrative for everyone involved. I would venture to guess that a lot of people feel that pressure because of the conversation around it is so intense.

Thankfully, Dolly Parton is not like a lot of people, and her speaking so candidly about her lack of grief and sadness around not having children is going to help a lot of people.

Speaking with Exceptional, Parton admitted that she doesn't regret not having children. "I haven't missed it like I thought I might," she explained. "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 traveling."

It's a very practical, unemotional, logical, and confident outlook on a subject that is so often framed as a personal tragedy for women and feminine identity. When was the last time you saw an aging male musician or celebrity asked about whether or not they regret being childless?

And it's not for a lack of maternal instincts: look at how much Parton has done for children regardless, like The Dollywood Foundation ("to inspire the children in her home county to achieve educational success"), or Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (which sends free books to kids). "If I'd had kids, I'd have stayed home with them, I'm sure, and worried myself to death about them," Parton added.

"I always say God didn’t let me have children so that all kids could be mine," she said. And, truly, is there anything more mother than that?

Alicia Lutes
Freelance Writer

Alicia Lutes is a freelance writer, essayist, journalist, humorist, and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. She has written extensively on culture, entertainment, the craft of comedy, and mental health. Her work has been featured in places such as Vulture, Playboy, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Cosmopolitan, Rotten Tomatoes, Bustle, Longreads, and more. She was also the creator/former host of the web series Fangirling, and currently fosters every single dog she can.