it is in this moment that we can see the first fracture in Dean appear. after everything he has done, John readily brushes him aside because of one mistake. a mistake he knows almost cost them Sam. Is it any wonder why he sold his soul to bring Sam back?
#his little face #not following john’s orders means getting sam killed #doing things for yourself means letting your family get hurt #it’s not allowed #*you* don’t matter #and this attitude still persists #that’s why he always gives in to sam to this day (via alaynestone)
#it’s not about dean loving sam more it’s about this #parentified child dean #it’s about feeling entirely responsible for another life that yours is forefeit and valued as meaningless #dean’s not allowed to want #he has to put sam’s life above his own always #sam is freaking like 30 years old or more?? by this point and dean still responds to ‘look after sammy its your job’. #entirely damaging experience that resulted in a lack of self worth #but lets simplify it to ‘well he obv loves sam more’#as if love is a healthy concept at all in this case #when it’s a relationship and dependency caused by abusive and harmful parenting (via worldturtling)
yeah this has nothing to do with it #noooope #dean’s just born a ‘caretaker’a ‘protector’do people even listen to what they say? #i’ll avoid the snark about mixed metaphors and illogical conclusions #spn #i’m in a ranty mood #bye #abuse
Looking at this scene, I don’t understand how it can be said that John was not an abusive father. I understands that John was likely suffering from PTSD. I also understand John’s rational motivations, that he knew his boys would be in constant danger and was trying to raise them so that they would be ready to protect themselves. I honestly believe that if John taught his kids certain things (explicitly or implicitly) is because he didn’t know any better. And finally, I understand that John was convinced he loved his kids.
But that still doesn’t justify the way he treated them, Dean especially.
Nor do all of the motivations he gives for it make sense, for that matter, when examined up close.
But then again, I doubt it’s really just about being forced to make your kids independent before their time so they don’t die. If it were just about that, as soon as Sam was the right age (which for Dean was, what, eight, ten years old? Maybe even earlier?) the mantra would’ve stopped being “Dean, look after your brother” and would’ve become “boys, look after each other. When you’re alone, never let the other out of sight, because it’s the only way you’ll stay alive” or even the harsher “Sam, now that you’re older, take some responsibility for yourself. In this life you need to grow up, and fast. No excuses. Your brother can’t protect you all your life, learn to watch out for yourself, too”. That never happened. Dean grew up protecting Sam, Sam grew up sheltered by Dean. What Dean was put through in his early childhood was never the result of a painful and unfortunate, but momentary, necessity. Whether John admitted this to himself or not, Dean being little more than a prop to ensure Sam’s safety, Dean existing with the sole purpose of protecting his brother, was meant to be definitive.
Sam never recived that same kind of militaristic training Dean received from John, either. John was ok with sacrificing Dean’s innocence and childhood out of necessity, but not with doing the same, or doing it to the same degree, to Sam, out of that same necessity. John was ok with taking away a chunk of Dean’s childhood so that Sam would be allowed to have some safety - and even tranquility - but he wasn’t ok with taking away a chunk of Sam’s childhood so that Dean could have a piece of his mental health back in return. John was ok with having Dean grow up scared of him so that Sam could be protected, but not with looking for other ways (which exist, by the way) to make sure Dean would listen to him and still feel safe and cared for in his presence.
John never directly put a load on Sam’s shoulders, in fact by his own admission he put everything on Dean. But Dean wasn’t just left to look after Sam because John had no other option. Dean became the pacifier and element of unity in the family, as John had Dean take care of him too and deal with the fallout of John’s hunts and John’s alcoholism, which put Dean at the centre of everything making him feel even more that it was his responsibility to keep the family together and as happy and serene as the situation would allow.
John and Sam fought because Sam wanted to leave; when Dean made a mistake, John willingly abandoned Dean and sent him to “rot in jail”. He didn’t call and didn’t show up until he needed Dean again, and snatched Dean back from the little peace he had found. Now, in my book, trying to keep Sam from escaping and building a life for himself isn’t the most loving of behaviors as a parent. But that was an argument, and in the end Sam was physically allowed to leave. Another thing is discarding your 16 and keep away for a month because he lost some money and was caught trying to steal food. That has nothing to do with John doing “what he had to”, or being forced to be harsh “for the sake of his children”. That’s just about being a horrible father and a horrible person. That has no excuse, of any kind.
Sam never faced any of this. What he experienced is John’s neglect, and the kind of abuse he was subject to has to do with the fact that for the most part he wasn’t raisd by an adult (like Bobby, for example) but left in the hands of a kid, even though there would’ve been alternatives. Dean, on the other hand, was denied the affection that John had for Sam, instilled the principle that he should never argue with his father’s orders, grew up terrified of his father and knowing he would only get the love he needed through the approval his father would show if he ignored his other needs to defend Sam and was loyal to his father’s ideas. Dean grew up thinking his father was a hero… and also thinking, however conscious that was, that his father didn’t give two shits about him and would dump him like trash the moment he wasn’t living up to his expectations anymore. And what happened when he didn’t live up to John’s expectations one time too many for John’s tasted? He actually dumped him like trash.
This isn’t about “preparing your kids for the life” or doing the best you can in a really shitty situation. This is about John refusing to show much love or concern fo Dean, always being more worried about Sam’s survival and wellbeing than Dean. It’s not about John making sure his kids stay alive as much as it is about making sure Sam stays alive, and John never did anything to make Dean think otherwise - in fact, it’s a notion set in stone that Dean grew up with. Whatever John says, all John demonstrated throughout the years is that he cared about how Sam would get out it, not “his kids”, and that is what counts. Lots of abusers claim they love the people they abuse, but that doesn’t make their actions any less of an abuse.
This, this, this. Agreed on the whole line.
It kills me that to this day, Dean still has not been able to break out of the abuse that was inflicted upon him. It briefly seemed as if he’d acknowledged the damage John had done in 3x10, but later seasons have brought him back to the “dad did the best he could” mindset, and that is just so untrue. John did not do his best. His best would have been, yes, leaving his kids with a more capable, less PTSD-ridden, less revenge-bent caretaker; Missouri, Bobby, or later on for Dean, Sonny. But Dean thinks that’s the “best” he could get— the best he can possibly deserve, and that is dreadful.
Were some of the things John did justified? Yes. Had John not raised his kids to be hunters, Sam would be reigning in Hell and Dean would be dead, probably. I can even go as far as to say that I can understand sheltering Sam when he didn’t shelter Dean, because Dean had already seen his mother burning on a ceiling, and one could argue it was by then too late to fix that damage. But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what John did to Dean, and the rest had no excuse at all.
No child should ever be charged with taking care of himself, let alone another human being. Dean took care of Sam when he was sick; Dean provided Sam with whatever Christmas gifts he could get; Dean kept Sam fed, by taking food away from his own mouth— because let’s get real for a moment here, how is it that two kids are left to eat either canned Spaghetti-O’s or breakfast cereal? Would they have elected to survive on cereal if they had had other food? Or is it more plausible that John left for an undetermined amount of days without leaving his kids enough food OR money?
Which just leads me neatly to the incident of Dean stealing food at 16, specifically bread and peanut butter, which - surprise! - are Sam’s favorite snack, since Dean appears to loathe it. Now, Dean is not an idiot. He’s gone hungry before. Why would he gamble his food money? Would Dean, brainwashed, abused, parentified Dean, have risked letting Sammy go hungry for the sake of showing off? Or isn’t it more plausible that, once again, their food money was running out, and he desperately needed more? Dean was punished by John for a mistake he made trying to look after Sam after John had fucked up.
And this didn’t start with Mary’s death, either. Before the fire even happened, Dean was already learning that it was his job to look after his parents, because John just up and decided to move out because he and Mary had fought, and Dean was left to console his mother. Tell her she would be okay. Just as later he would tell his drunken, angry, absent-for-weeks-at-a-time father that it would all be okay. (Sidenote: other than the crushing responsibility, can you guess what happens when a child is neglected and conditioned enough that he’s left trying to solve problems that he cannot possibly fix? Yeah, you guessed it, he starts thinking it’s his fault in the first place.)
And then, of course, there’s the pettiest, shittiest things, the ones that not only do not have any excuse but are also absurdly uncalled for. Like the way that - far from rewarding his son for all his hard work - John elected to take it out on him when he was mad at his other son. Sam won’t obey? Well, the logical option is to insult Dean over something blatantly untrue (because come on, Dean takes PERFECT care of the Impala and we all know that). Why? Well, obvious— because Dean will take the abuse and shut up. And sure enough, that’s exactly what he does then.
Even the one thing that John could be said to have done for Dean - selling his soul to save him - turned out to be completely negative. First of all, because of the massive guilt Dean felt, but that was to be expected. Secondly, because it set the idea that this is just what you have to do for family— “I did it for you, so don’t you dare not do the same for Sam” (who, as we know, has always been shown to be more important.” And finally… John didn’t even save Dean for Dean. His last instructions? Not only to keep looking after Sam, but to save him from some demonic power that the boys know exactly nothing about— and he’d better not fail, because if he fails, he will have to kill his own brother, who by that point has basically become Dean’s whole reason to stay alive.
Dean was literally kept alive by John so he could take care of Sam.
Now tell me again that John Winchester was not a scum father. Go on, tell me.
And that’s not including the physical abuse that it has been hinted at he went through