There's never been a doubt that country legend Dolly Parton loves kids. In 1986, she partnered with Jack and Pete Herschend to open an amusement park, Dollywood, in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The singer-songwriter wanted to create a place where families could escape to and have a good time, while helping her fulfill a childhood promise she made to her father, Robert.
The park's proceeds go towards Parton's children's reading initiative called Imagination Library. The program caters to children from birth until the age of five, and participants receive one free, hand-selected book every month.
Parton and her husband of 51 years, Carl Thomas Dean, also helped raise many of Parton's younger siblings, which earned her the nickname "Aunt Granny" by her nieces and nephews. She is also godmother to pop star Miley Cyrus, whose father, Billy Ray, became close to Patron after working together on the song "Romeo."
But despite it all, people still wonder why the 71-year-old never had children of her own. She has opened up about the topic in past interviews, and said admitted that she doesn't regret her decision.
"Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, "Aren't you glad we didn't have kids?" she told Billboard. "Now we don't have kids to worry about."
The "Jolene" singer did not really explain why they made that choice in these particular interviews, but she did reveal the real reason behind her decision in a previous chat with The Guardian.
Parton told the publication that once upon a time, she and Dean did consider having children. They talked about what their offspring would look like and even picked out a name if they had a daughter.
"My husband and I, when we first got married, we thought about if we had kids, 'What would they look like? Would they be tall because he's tall? Or would they be little squats like me?' If we'd had a girl, she was gonna be called Carla," she recalled. "Anyway, we talked about it, and we dreamed it, but it wasn't meant to be. Now that we're older? We're glad."
Parton said that she "would have been a great mother" because she "would have probably have given everything else" to focus on raising her children. However, this was also the same reason that stopped her from being a mother.
"Everything would have changed," she said. "I probably wouldn't have been a star."
Parton admitted that she "would've felt guilty" leaving her children behind to work on her craft and go on tours.
In a much more recent interview with TODAY, Dolly revealed that she still happy with her choice and that's the way it was meant to be.
"God has a plan for everything," she said, adding, "it probably was his plan for me not to have kids so everybody's kids could be mine. And they are now."
She told Matt Lauer, who was the host at the time, that although she isn't a mom, children are still drawn to her.
"I have that high-pitched voice ... I look like Mother Goose or one of those over-exaggerated characters, and kids just relate to that," she jokingly said.
The singer released a children's music album titled "I Believe In You," in 2017, and all the proceeds went to Imagination Library.
What do you think of Parton's choice? Let us know in the comments!