I've had enough with those people accusing Sam having a better childhood and that Dean suffered so much to provide Sam a loved environment. It's not a goddamn competition! And why did they always, always ignore the fact that Sam did LOVE Dean, he's the one who complimented, encouraged Dean! I don't even remember when had Sam guilt tripped Dean into sth while Dean did it all the time. Sorry for getting carried away, I just wanted to ask which tag would you suggest me to search? Thanks!
Me too, Anon! If you want to read a ton of really great analysis on this very topic, check out our Young Sam tag. That one is undoubtedly the most likely to yield results specifically about the concerns you have, but these may also have some relevant analysis: sam and family, sam and abuse, sam and formative experiences.
Too many people assume that because Sam’s experience was not equivalent to Dean’s, it was not challenging or damaging. Additionally, too many fans unquestioningly swallow the image of flawless-parent-Dean and take any assertions that Sam had a tough childhood as accusations against Dean, which they most certainly are not. There are also way too many ridiculous headcanons bouncing around in the fandom that a bunch of people accept as canon, like this one which queen-of-carven-stone so effectively refuted.
Dean certainly had many rough and harmful experiences that Sam can’t understand. Sam had many equally harmful experiences that Dean can’t possibly understand, too, and I think too many people forget that.
A short and incomplete highlight reel of Sam’s childhood experiences:
- Sam has never known home or a mother’s love. The only life he remembers is the itinerant lifestyle of a hunter.
- It’s the only life he’s ever known, and it is also a life he has never really felt a part of. He spent his childhood feeling unworthy and impure. His attempt to leave and seek a place he might belong ended up with his father disowning him.
- Dean knew about hunting from a young age, but Sam was lied to for most of his young life and left alone in motel rooms as young as 9 years old and (and quite possibly as young as 5). Sam was dragged all over the U.S., dropped in motel rooms alone, and no one would tell him why they were doing that.
- His English teacher when he was fourteen was the first person who asked what Sam wanted out of life rather than assuming that he’d go into the family business.
- He had lost his mother and desperately wanted to know about her, but was yelled at when he asked. He didn’t know any/many of the details of her death until he was 22. He never knew Dean carried him out of the fire until then, either. He spent his whole freaking childhood seeking revenge for a loss he was never allowed to be a part of. Is it any wonder he thought to look elsewhere for a place to belong?
- So many people in fanon assume that Dean always (or even often) supported Sam when he stood up against John. However… canon has scant evidence of this. In fact, most of the evidence points to Dean taking John’s side.
That’s not unusual at all, of course. Dean seriously shouldn’t have had to bear the burdens placed on him from such a young age, but neither should Sam. Sam’s experiences were no less harmful than Dean’s, and the effects of his unstable childhood have followed him into adulthood and beyond.