Rand and Marybeth Elliott are the kind of parents who should really have their own corny 1950s-style family sitcom. Their marriage is completely perfect—as Amy describes it, "They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride through life like conjoined jellyfish" (4.12). Nick even observes upon their arrival in North Carthage after Amy's disappearance that as they wait in the police station, they "looked like they were posing for prom photos" (9.27). They're so cuddly and affectionate with each other that it's almost disturbing and socially unacceptable.
Speaking of disturbing, the Elliotts spend a lot of time objectifying their daughter through the Amazing Amy book series, a "public form of passive-aggressiveness toward their child" (4.10). When Amy quits violin because it's too hard, Amazing Amy perseveres through the challenges and becomes a prodigy. Amazing Amy chooses to attend Rand and Marybeth's alma mater for college, while real Amy does not. Things get seriously disturbing when, although Amy is in her thirties and still unmarried, they write a book where Amazing Amy marries her childhood sweetheart.
That they refer to the series as a "business" is especially revealing. To them, Amy isn't a real person—she's a product. Amy's own recollections of her childhood confirm this: "We just want you to be happy. Rand and Marybeth said that all the time, but they never explained how" (30.28). Rand and Marybeth are so concerned with their literary empire that they fail to really connect with their actual daughter.
That Amy was their only child after five miscarriages and two stillbirths reveals a lot about their persistence, but it also makes us question their motives. After all, once they had a child, they immediately set about fictionalizing her. Perhaps they wanted a child to enhance the perfect image of their marriage, and when Amy failed to match their expectations, they created a two-dimensional daughter who would.