How Dolly Parton Has Kids And Grandkids Even Though They Aren't Her Own

Dolly Parton is as beloved for her music as she is her fashion, social activism, and inspiring rise to fame. She has continued to be relevant to new generations and shows no signs of slowing down. Even in her 70s, Parton has put on her own Christmas specials, released new albums, and forged ahead with her philanthropic work. She even donated $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. That money helped fund Moderna develop a COVID-19 vaccine, which they successfully rolled out by late 2020. 

As a country superstar since the 1960s, Parton's personal life has been subject to media attention for decades. Luckily for fans, she is open about many aspects of her life, from her Christian faith to her rural upbringing. While she keeps her husband of nearly 60 years out of the spotlight, she has discussed why they never had children and why they never regret that decision.

Dolly Parton is close with her nieces and nephews

Dolly Parton married Carl Thomas Dean in 1966. He is not in showbusiness and prefers a low-key simple life. Despite Parton's fame, the couple have achieved just that. However, her career did come in the way of the couple having children of their own. "You give up family and friends, vacation, and work without end, 24/7, 365, but you got to make the sacrifice," Parton told Oprah Winfrey on an episode of "The Oprah Conversation."

It seems that Parton and Dean did not feel that they had any void in their lives because they never had children. Much of this is because of Parton's 11 siblings. "I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life. I've loved their kids just like they're my grandkids, and now I've got great-grandkids!" Parton explained to People. To her nieces and nephews, she is "Aunt Granny" or "GeeGee," and her husband is "Uncle PeePaw."

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library provides millions of books for children

Aside from Dolly Parton's close relationship with her nieces and nephews, she is able to form bonds with children through her Imagination Library. Parton founded this organization in 1995 in order to give children access to books and instill in them a love of reading. The Imagination Library has since given away over 200 million books free of charge. "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," Parton stated on "The Oprah Conversation." Parton does not regret never having children of her own. "I wouldn't have done all the things I've done [if I would have had kids]."

Parton likened herself to a "Fairy Godmother" when speaking to People. However, she is an actual godmother to singer and actress Miley Cyrus due to a friendship with Cyrus' father, Billy Ray Cyrus. In 2020, Miley presented Parton with the Hitmaker Award at the Billboard Women in Music event. "I've never met anyone that doesn't like Dolly Parton," Cyrus stated.