Though the research is hazy, the evidence is firm: families fight a lot. I saw one figure that couples fight on average seven times a day. That seems crazy. I don’t interact with my family seven times a day. Nevertheless, the truth Sartre laid out in his play, No Exit, remains true: L’enfer c’est des autres. Hell is other people. Somewhat more respectable research, this from the Institute on Family Statistics, indicates with families specifically with children argue about, in decreasing order of frequency: Chores, Money, Children and Sex. Yup, that’s right. Unaccounted for, however, are the genre of fights I have with my children which, though frequently less emotional are nevertheless exhausting and time-consuming. One thing that, shockingly, hasn’t emerged since the early days of family fights — Cave Man: UGG! Cave Woman: BLARG! Cave Man retreats into Man Cave; Cave Woman invents fire — is a taxonomy of family fights. Well, here one is.
Inspired by Carl Linneaus, the brilliant (if racist AF) father of binomial nomenclature, here’s an semi-exhaustive taxonomy of family fights, or as I call them, Pugna Familicus. I’ve broken them down into the four common families of fights. and included both the common name and the Latin name for further study. Also, because I don’t know Latin, maybe it’s just gibberish but as Seneca said, Pugnicus floribus familius lorem ipso verbatem!
Financial Fights (Pugna Rebus Oeconomicus)
These are fights that take place between parents about money.
The Little Things Add Up Argument (Pugna rebus Oeconomicus Macchiati): Fights having to do with one person spending an inordinate amount of money on smaller purchased like macchiatos and $17 lunches.
The Amazon Prime Fight (Pugna rebus Oeconomicus Amazonia Primus): Fights having to do with profligate spending on Amazon Prime. Free shipping doesn’t make up for the thousands of dollars in expenditures.
The Family Comptroller Fight (Pugna rebus Oeconomicus Contrarotatulor) This is an ongoing power struggle between two parties as to who is in control of family finances.
The I Thought You Had Enrolled in Autopay Fight (Pugna rebus Oeconomicus Autoreddere) A conflict stemming from miscommunication vis-a-vis the payment of bills, frequently precipitated by Shut Off notices from the utility company.
It’s Not About Money Money Fight (Pugna rebus Oeconmicus Non Oeconomicus) This fight belongs to the genre of subterfugium, fights that are not actually about the thing you’re fighting about. In this case, an argument about balancing personal versus familial priorities (Pugna Dynamicus Pars Versus Toto) masquerades as a fight about spending habits.
Parenting Fights (Pugna Parentis)
These are fights that take place between parents, about child-rearing.
The Spoiling Fight (Pugna Parentis Lenissimus): Fights having to do with one parent thinking the other is too lenient
The Tyrant Fight (Pugna Parentis Tyrannicus): Fights have to do with one parent thinking the other is being too strict.
The You’re Your Father Fight (Pugna Parentis Parentis Pater): This fight is applicable to both men and women though most often initiated against a man. Often this takes the form of a Pugna Inclinatio or Bended Fight, a fight in which one party uses the other’s own insecurity against them. Not Recommended.
The You’re Your Mother Fight (Pugna Parentis Parentis Mater): The same as above but pertaining to a spouse becoming his or her mother.
The Don’t Undermine Me Fight (Pugna Parentis Thermopylae) This is a commonly occurring fight that takes place when one parent contravenes another in disciplinary matters in front of the child. It is often communicated with silent death stares and mouthed words of anger.
The Why Are You Always Looking at your Phone Fight? (Pugna Parentis Ocularis Telephonus) A maelstrom caused by the toxic combination of suspicion and the sting of rejection, the fight only erupts when there is a
Children Fights (Pugna Juvenilia)
These are fights that take place between parent and child.
The Absurd Fight (Pugna Juvenalia Absurdum): A frequent and not-unpleasant fight often had with three year olds about clearly demonstrable facts i.e. “Basketball courts are bigger than soccer fields” or “Birds are pterodactyls that flew away when the asteroid came.” or “You age the most on your birthday because that’s when you turn a new age.”
The I Don’t Care, Don’t Hit Your Brother Back! Fight (Pugna Juvenalia Pugna Juvenalia) A wooly and complicated adjudication of sibling arguments in which the adult must establish that he or she holds the monopoly on violence. And that, though provoked, any retaliatory hitting will still end up with both parties in punishment.
The What Episode Are You On? Fight (Pugna Juvenalia Netflixicus) This fight most often occurs in the afternoon and is facilitated by the sneaky binge-inducing habits of Netflix, which begins new episodes immediately upon the heels of old ones such that a child watching one episode of Troll Hunters, sneakily ends up watching two (or three) and then denying it when asked.
The Bedtime Fight (Pugna Juvenalia Somnum) This is a nightly fight that frequently takes place from 7 pm to 9 pm and consists of many variations. Common flashpoints include a child getting out of bed, cagily holding in a pee until after lights out, endless fidgeting, calling the other parent in a pitiable tone, and fucking with the nightlight. It can only be won by attrition.
The Special Treat Fight (Pugna Juvenalia Excelsior) Among the more nuanced of parent-and-child arguments, this one concerns whether a special treat — viz. ice cream, a lolly, a Superball — can be called special if it is bought regularly. Though superficially linguistic in nature, it has deep implications for both Pugna Parentis Lenissimus and Pugna Parentis Tyrannicus.
Sex Fights (Pugna Sexualis)
These are fights that occur between parents about their sexual life.
The Oh Yeah, I’d Like To See You Give Birth Fight (Pugna Sexualis mater metamorphosis) Fights having to do with the fact that your wife, wrongly, feels you don’t find her attractive meanwhile she feels, rightly, that her body has changed because she gave birth to the two children that you claim so much to love.
The Sleep Beats Screwing Fight (Pugna Sexualis primus somnus) Another species of subterfugium, often standing in for an argument about the unequal distribution of household chores (Pugna Domus Patriarchus)
The Why Don’t You Do That Miraculous Thing We Used To Do Anymore Fight (Pugna Sexualis Anus Mirabilis) This fight is commonly occurring between long-time partners in the fallow years after the bloom is off the rose but, sexually, the couple hasn’t yet just decided to say fuck it and get as freaky with each other as they know they want to be.