Dolly Parton Once Said She Needed More Attention Than Her Parents Gave Her as a Child

Dolly Parton always shares her love for her mother and father — even if she struggled to get enough attention as a young child. Here’s what we know about the Queen of Country music and her “humble beginnings” in Tennesse. 

Dolly Parton’s family included 11 siblings

Dolly Parton rehearses for the 2016 Christmas in Rockefeller Center
Dolly Parton rehearses for the 2016 Christmas in Rockefeller Center | Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

The Queen of Country had humble beginnings, even describing her family as “dirt poor” before making it big as a musician. Parton’s father would work as a sharecropped when Dolly Parton was a child, later acquiring a piece of land to farm tobacco and raise livestock.

Parton is one of 12 children, meaning she has eleven siblings in total, with Parton being one of the middle children. As a result, this country star says that she was probably a “pain in the a**” while growing up.

Dolly Parton said she needed ‘a lot of attention’ from her parents

Parton often shares that her parents, Robert Lee Parton Sr. and Avie Lee Caroline, had plenty of love for each other and God. As one of the middle children, though, Parton shared that she sometimes watched more attention from his father and mother.

“I was probably a real pain in the a** when I was little because I had such dreams,” Parton said during a 1984 interview featured in Dolly on Dolly. “And I needed a lot of attention that I didn’t get. My folks loved us, they loved us all the same, but I had a sister and two brothers older than me.” 

“My older sister, of course, being the first, was more responsible and got more attention,” she continued. “My older brothers, benign boys were just stronger and bigger, and me, I was born in an odd spot and was a very sensitive kid. My feelings could get hurt so easily because I always wanted to be loved, I wanted to be touched, I wanted to touch somebody.” 


Trixie Mattel Missed the Dolly Parton-Themed Episode of ‘RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race’ by One Episode

Dolly Parton also shares her love for her mother, father, and family

It was this passion and fire that drew Parton to music. Eventually, the artist earned recognition for songs like “9 to 5” and “Jolene.” She earned Grammy Awards and starred in several films and documentaries. 

“I wanted everybody to love me, so I think I was louder than I should have been,” Parton added. “I was just trying to get attention. I always felt like I was somebody special. Maybe it’s because I needed to be somebody special. I just always knew I was going to be a star. I was always going to be rich, so I could buy things for Mommy and Daddy so that I could buy them a big house and we could have things.”

Once Parton made it big as an artist, she was sure to give back to her family. She purchased her mother a Cadillac, always trading it in for newer models, while her father kept the same truck that Parton purchased for him.