Fact: Elly tends to assume that her children know more than they actually can because that would make her life easier. Since she can't admit to that being stupid, she ascribes the onset of reality to her children being evil.
This need to fear and hate childhood as a process because it requires her to actually earn her status would be bad enough were it not for the end result of Marian's stupid habit of rearranging her kitchen to suit her own needs as a means of reminding Elly that she doesn't intend ruining her by making her feel like she's loved and respected because she 'knows' something a literal-minded idiot built to see only bad things cannot. This need to receive praise that only came when Phil came along and finally managed to convince their mother that people like Elly actually exist and that she wouldn't see as real anyway owing to that mental defect I keep talking about leads us to Foob Fact Number Thirty-One:
Fact: Elly has a very rigid way of doing things and feels as if the world might end and as if people hate her and yearn to see her destruction if they do things their own way.
To continue merrily along, let's remind ourselves that John sees doom and ruin coming too but from a different direction. He cultivates this mystique of being an unapproachable figure the children can neither know or identify with because he sees being known to have things in common with them as a weapon that can be used to destroy him. He might turn around and cluck about how strange and silly his kids are for not sharing his interests or knowing much about him but, hell, Foob Facts Thirty-Two:
Fact: John needs to preserve his image as a stern, unyielding authority figure more than he wants to be a valued part of his family's life.
Fact: John isn't exactly burdened with curiosity as to what other people care for or about or how they see the world and this limits his effectiveness as a husband and father.
combine with his short fuse to make him look like a menacing cipher that no one can love. Every so often, it occurs to him that he has no friends and no one will come to his side when he's ailing but he can't see why because of a fact that I'll get to tomorrow.