Sam was raised the exact same way as Dean with the exact same shitty parent and yet he has some tact and compassion.
Saw this quote on a post, expressing something I’ve seen before about the differences between Sam and Dean, which (putting aside the suggestion that Dean has no compassion, which, bwuh?) is missing a major point about their respective upbringings.
Yes, Sam & Dean were both raised by John, but they had quite different childhoods. Case in point, compare the flashbacks in “Something Wicked” (with nine-year-old Dean) with “Just My Imagination” (with nine-year-old Sam.)
Sam, at nine, is being left alone in a cheap motel room. He has to feed himself and entertain himself. (He happens to get some help with that thanks to a friendly Zanna, but John had no way of knowing this.) Sam does get calls from Dean checking on how he’s doing, but even so, he’s NINE – it’s a clear case of neglect and it’s terrible. It also sets firm personality traits in Sam – primarily, that he learns he is responsible for seeking his own happiness (though his brother will try to support him in it, doing what he can to help Sam get what he wants.)
Dean, at nine, is being left alone in an even cheaper motel room. He has to feed himself, but before that he has to feed and entertain his five-year-old brother. He gets no supernatural help and no regular check-in calls, that we see. He tries to entertain himself, but an innocuous pastime as going to an arcade nearly gets Sam killed. Dean learns that he is responsible for someone else’s life, and that seeking his own happiness is not only inconsequential but actively harmful, that it lets down the people he loves.
This is not to say that Sam wasn’t neglected or that his childhood wasn’t terrible. He most definitely was, and it was. But if Sam is better adjusted than Dean, if Sam is better at showing tact and compassion, it’s not solely because he’s a naturally better person than Dean; it’s because Dean is a better parental figure than John is.
You sat next to Dean who was driving while talking to Sam on speaker phone. You were trying your hardest to not show any interest while Dean told Sam about the close encounter with the scarecrow last night.
However Dean knew, he always knew.
“We’re on our way to the community college now, you know since we don’t have
our geek boy sidekick to do all the research.” Dean joked.
“You know, if you’re hinting you need my help, just
ask.” Sam responded with a chuckle.
You let out a scoff with his words before grumbling “We don’t need him.” Just loud enough for Dean to hear.
Dean sent you a look before speaking again, “Actually, I want you to know-I mean, don’t think-”
Dean began his attempt at getting an apology out.
“Yeah. I’m sorry too.” Sam spoke, knowing what Dean was trying to say.
“Sam. You were right. You gotta do your own thing. You gotta live your own life.” Dean told your other brother, causing you to look at him like he had grown another head, where was this coming from?
“Are you serious?” Sam responded, sounding just as shocked as you were.
“You’ve always known what you want. And you go after it. You
stand up to Dad. And you always have. Hell, I wish I—anyway….I admire
that about you. I’m proud of you, Sammy.” Dean spoke into the phone.
“I don’t even know what to say.”
“Say you’ll take care of yourself.” Dean offered.
“I will.” Sam replied.
“Anything you wanna kiddo?” Dean questioned with a hopeful look, wishing that you’d apologize to Sam.
“Nope. I’m good.” You said quickly before turning your attention to your window.
Dean let out a sigh before speaking again, “Call me when you find Dad.”
“Ok. Bye, Dean. Bye Y/N.” Sam said sadly.
Dean hung up the phone then glanced over at you, “You really can’t stay mad at him forever you know.” You simply shrugged your shoulders and continued to ignore Dean, “You also can’t ignore me forever.”
You looked back at Dean and narrowed your eyes at him before making a ‘time out’ motion with your hands, “I can and I will…unless its related to a case.” You said before giving him a smug smile.
“That’s not how that works Y/N.” Dean informed you.
“I do what I want.” You replied before putting your hands back in the ‘time out motion’, signaling that you were going to continue to ignore him.
Dean let out a groan as he gripped onto the steering wheel tighter, “Teenagers.” He mumbled to himself while continuing his way down the highway.
“I’m sorry, Dean… I didn’t know who else to call…” There was no stopping the hot tears that spilled down my cheeks. I wasn’t even sure what I was crying about any more. The copious amounts of alcohol I had been encouraged to consume clouded my mind and blurred my vision. I couldn’t remember what had happened that left me sitting in a parking lot by myself, but I was sure of one thing. He was here to save me. Dean was crossing the space between us with urgency, his eyes wide and his brow creased in concern.
“Y/N! Are you okay? Did anyone hurt you?! I swear to god if anyone laid a hand on you…” Dean hurriedly removed his jacket and folded it around my shaking body. The brightness from the Impala’s headlights was glaring off my flashy, short dress and the heels I held in one hand. I felt ashamed and childlike, desperately wiping the moisture from my face. He didn’t seem to notice my embarrassment. He was too preoccupied with searching my body for any signs that I had been injured. Overwhelming relief washed over me. He was here, it was all over.
“I’m okay, now that you’re here.” I choked back another sob and fell forward into Dean’s arms. His warmth felt like home to me. For the first time that night I felt safe and content. Dean pulled me tighter to his chest and spread a wide hand over the back of my hair. I could feel the anxiety in the way he squeezed me close. His breath came as a shaky sigh when he spoke again, this time the words more stern.
“You never, ever hesitate to call me when you’re scared. I would never forgive myself if…” He paused and I could feel a small shudder rock his body before he continued. “Come on, let’s get you home”
p.s. This whole situation is probably giving him flashbacks to the time his dad saved him from that bar in New York.
The door creaked open just as he had slid his hand underneath the hem of your shirt, his fingers burning against your skin. You broke the kiss, breathless, and shoved him to the other side of the couch.
“Hey, we’re home!” Sam called, his footsteps from down the hall following his voice. You dug a hand into the backpack resting by your feet and tossed the boy a textbook while grabbing a notebook for yourself.
Sam froze in the doorway when he spotted the two of you. Dean walked around him with a slight severity in his eyes, all concentrated on the boy.
“You look a little out of breath there, sis. What’ve you been up to.”
You shrugged. “Just studying.”
He glanced at the textbook and your very uncomfortable study date before plucking the notebook out of your hand. “Taking notes on Macbeth in a math notebook? How’s that going for you?”
He tossed it back to you without looking and pointed a finger to the boy. “Come on, we’re going to have a little chat.”
You groaned, burying your head into your hands and preparing for the worst.
“So, what happened? Did things not work out or something?”
“Sam, don’t give me that ‘mad puppy’ look,” you sighed, snatching the identical pair of rings from his opened hand and turning your back to him. “That was a long time ago, okay? Just forget about it.”
“Like you obviously did, right?” Sam countered. “Y/N, if you’re not happy with what we have–”
“Don’t say that. Don’t you dare to even finish that sentence,” you said angrily, but your voice shook at the end. “Look, Sam, you and I…we both know how some things end up with this life–we know how lives end.”