The problem I have with this screwed-up narcissistic fantasy is that she doesn't take compliments in the spirit that they're meant. The Lynnsights remind us that we are dealing with the creation of a caustic blowhard who, for reasons that she cannot understand, sees herself at war with a world trying to break her down and make her weak. This means that it's far easier for a Patterson to insult someone than to praise them and it leads Elly to think that everything that everyone says to her is somehow or other a derogatory remark. Her life is thus littered with the wreckage of compliments that were shot down because she thought they were insults.
This tendency marches hand in hand with the fact that for children to learn to appreciate things, they need to be appreciated themselves. This is more than Elly can do. To her, the lives of her children are a series of meaningless, pointless events whose sole purpose is to inconvenience her and nothing that they do can possibly be allowed to please her. The lesson that Mike and Lizzie take away is that since nothing matters, nothing can and should be praised.