As we know, the key argument that Deanna used to convince Mike that he’d done the right thing by unleashing the Housening on the family was that by doing so, he’d allow Meredith and Robin to enjoy the same sort of magical childhood he’d had. What made this a ridiculous thing to see (aside, of course, from having to endure the repulsive bleatings from Kool-Aid Nation about how spoiled picky-face April wanted Mike to be either homeless or live in a cramped little house that was Too Small despite his being easily able to afford add-ons if he could tell John to shove his plans for a moronic eye-sore of a model train layout that was just for him up his fat ass) was having to remember that Mike’s childhood was not one to be envied. Mike spent most of his time either being forced to watch Elizabeth so that his mother could move the dirt around, cook swill, watch banal soaps and spend endless hours drinking coffee and gabbling about how she had no time, being told how ungrateful and bad he was, getting dared to do stupid things by lying little oafs, getting hopelessly confused by basic arithmetic and generally feeling like a dried-out turd on a forgotten stretch of country road. Unfortunately for the young woman who only needed to be taken aside and given an actual fact or two to get her on board, Mike fell for the rope-a-dope because he has the same moronic and destructive tendency John and Elly had: he sentimentalized his past shamelessly until he’d turned himself into the hero of a fifties sitcom.
This, aside from John’s innate tendency to assume that anyone who simply disagrees with him is trying to humiliate and destroy him, seems to be what most hampered his effectiveness as a parent. Since he assumes that childhood is a minimum cinch to breeze through instead of the Hell on Earth in which the unfortunate young have almost no control over their lives an actual adult with a functioning brain sees, he simply cannot see why Lizzie hated to be teased. Since nothing that happened to his kids until they were voting age could be said to matter lest he remember that most of why he’s a shit is that he hated his parents for being poor, to him, she was too young to be sensitive about her looks.