As we've seen, the Pattersons approach parenting as a grim, thankless chore that they don't really want to do but they cannot escape; what's more, they seem to worry more about how their children's actions either reflect on them or inconvenience them than the uninteresting problem of how their children feel. This leads us to an annoying trope that we'll see as the years go by: simply put, John and Elly don't believe in honest, good faith mistakes. It would never spontaneously occur to either of them that their children goof up by accident; their default assumption is that the children are plotting against them to make their lives harder; apologizing seems to do little good owing to their parents' need to be pointlessly upset. This would be bad enough if we didn't have to deal with the children knowing this and trying to hide their errors; that means that they have to deal with an annoying and stupid lecture about how they can always trust their parents to listen without judging them. Oddly enough, Liz is the go-to person when discussing this phenomenon. I remember two sequences that point out how reluctant Elly is to cut her child some slack:
- The first instance was when she'd sent Liz down to the corner store to pick up a few things; Liz was swinging the bag around because she was happy that Mom trusted her enough to do this when the bag of milk (a Canadian thing) broke; since Lizzie did a real moron thing called "remembering all the times Elly stood there ranting like a dodo over unintentional accidents", she tried covering it up by telling a lie about robbers. Once Elly did get to the bottom of things, we heard a whole bunch of noise about why Liz didn't trust her.
- The second incident I have in mind was when Liz lost her glasses at the beach; John was trying to tell Elly that these things happen but Elly would not be moved. She stood there like a fool berating a sad child who felt quite bad enough and, since everything is about how she feels, didn't especially care how bad Liz felt.
The interesting thing about this is that Elly doesn't have much in the way of self-awareness; this is why she's always astonished when she finds out that people think of her as standing around yelling all the time. One also must contend with her reluctance to letting her children make things right; she can't be a martyr surrounded by fools if they go around fixing things, can she?