John's survival mechanism of not standing up for April rather than have to risk dealing once and for all with Elly's insistence that April ruined her life and thus expose the family to the shame of having to go see a therapist as if they were crazy is not an isolated incident. As history teaches is, The Pattersons tend to fear confrontation as a general rule. The reason given is that they don't want to make a scene; the real one is that they fear the other party will dominate the conversation. Their failure to phone Ted about the cabin is the first known occasion; it would seem to me that they would have had a nicer time if they'd gone to a payphone, spent a few dollars and gotten the proper directions; since they didn't want to make a fuss about something that counted. Another incident happened during their trip to the farm in 1983. As we all know, Elly had a burr in her side in the form of a misogynist imbecile farmhand; rather than tell him off, she mutely allowed him to spout his ignorant balderdash unopposed. This is also why they did little but look shocked and sad when they realized that Gordon's parents were abusing him. There is one invention, however, that allows a Patterson to feign speaking his or her mind without the risk of being talked back to: the personal computer. As an example, Mike has done his best work by remote control; he not only penned that slander of the Kelpfroths on his PC. he broke up with Rhetta that way. It was that or have to feel bad about a decision so his choice was clear.