Elly's reaction to all of this is more or less to whine about all the stuff her children don't pick up the right way, bemoan a childhood she can't get back and to obsess about minor accidents with walking dolls well past the time when most neurotics would have called it quits. This makes her a mild nuisance; it also makes her a less irritating figure than the fool she married.
That's because her need to impress the indifferent ensures that she won't try to recapture the childhood she thought was spoiled forever because she didn't have all the latest, coolest stuff; that form of insanity has been assigned to her asshole husband. The cover to the collection "Pushing Forty" defines the dynamic far better than mere words can describe; what we have is a ridiculously entitled man subjecting his family to discomfort and humiliation so he can make a childish fool of himself. Given his idiot grin, it's obvious that he'd pout like a toddler if his whim was denied.
This, of course, is because he thinks that he has to play with his ego-gratifying toys at all costs and if his family has to be inconvenienced, that's simply too bad. Anyone who objects must be a spoiled little princess; otherwise, he's a monstrously stupid and selfish asswipe who'd gleefully throw his whole family under the bus so he could have his toys.
What this all means as far as his children are concerned is that they can never possibly be appreciative enough in his eyes. The same man who's content to warehouse his parents because they worked for The Man has set the bar for filial piety so high it cannot be traversed.