Another thing about the Pattersons that one has to consider is that they boast about what great parents they are to all comers; I should think that the target of their self-aggrandizement generally makes a non-commital noise that sounds like agreement before letting John or Elly go about their business with their illusions intact. Amongst themselves, of course, the good people of Milborough tell horror stories about how the idiot with the trains and his insane wife have let their children go almost as wild as their stupid mongrels. The more perceptive can even point to the root causes. The first thing that they notice is that when a child has a problem, a Patterparent only handles the problem very unwillingly and does as little as possible to help. Second, they also see quite clearly that John and Elly are very thin-skinned, self-centered and jealous of their authority; the slightest glimmer of thinking that does not rotate around the notion that John and Elly have to be repaid for their sacrifices or tends towards defining themselves as themselves instead of as a pawn for the petty goals of jitney dynasts results in their being packed off to a farm to remind them who's boss. Most people would see them as being as good parents as they are friends.