Dolly Parton Wondered if Kids Might Have Been ‘Little Squats’ Like Her if She Had Them

Dolly Parton never had kids and has been candid about her reasons for not doing so. But that doesn’t mean she never wanted them. The country icon said she and her husband, Carl Dean, imagined what their children might have looked like. And they wondered if they would have been tall like him or “little squats” like her. But in the end, they’re happy it never came to be.

Dolly Parton performs onstage in a cowboy hat and yellow top, holding a guitar and singing into a microphone
Dolly Parton | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ACM

Dolly Parton was ‘crushed’ by the loss of ‘her’ baby

Though Parton didn’t have children, she helped raise plenty. She assisted her parents in caring for her younger siblings when she was still a child, and her siblings have kept children in her life pretty much since.

But in her youth, each kid in her family would take on the care of a younger child, which allowed everyone to be looked after. There were 12 children in all.

But Parton also experienced a devastating loss in that period. “There were so many of us that we, each older one, had to take care of the others,” Parton said on Home & Family.

“There was only 18 months to two years difference in our ages,” she went on. “So as the kids started multiplying mom would say, ‘Well this one’s going to be your baby.’” 

So, when Parton was nine and preparing for “her” baby, Larry, she said she was heartbroken when the pregnancy was lost. She stopped singing as her mother went through a depressive period.

But eventually, she got her “Christmas baby,” little brother Randy, who arrived just in time for the holiday. She said having him was just like having one of the dolls she’d wanted, except with higher stakes.

Dolly Parton said she ‘always wonders’ what her kids might have been like

Though Parton had lots of experience with her siblings, she imagined how her children with Dean might have turned out. She told The Guardian in 2014 she “always wonders” what it would have been like to be a mother herself and sometimes thinks about the children she never had.

“Would they be tall — because he’s tall? Or would they be little squats like me?” she asked. She then confessed, “If we’d had a girl, she was gonna be called Carla.”

Dolly Parton is happy she never had children

Parton said she and Dean talked and even dreamed about eventually having as many as six children someday. “But it wasn’t meant to be,” she concluded to The Guardian. “Now that we’re older? We’re glad.”

She explained she felt she “would have been a great mother,” but said, “I would probably have given up everything else. Because I would’ve felt guilty about that, if I’d have left them [to work, to tour]. Everything would have changed. I probably wouldn’t have been a star.”

Parton says her hit songs are like her supportive children who take care of her. And she explained Dean is the perfect man for her because he’s stuck with her. “Whether it was a marriage, or whether it was deciding to stop and have children,” she said. “That’s all great. If you can make all of that work. But for me? I knew that I just had to keep going.”

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