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.