Is There Truth Behind the Dependapotamus Myth?

Is There Truth Behind the Dependapotamus Myth?
Is There Truth Behind the Dependapotamus Myth?
Enough with the “dependapotamus” label! It’s counterproductive to creating a supportive environment for all military spouses.

In the military community, especially the online military community, dependapotamus is a 4-letter word. An insult. Kind of like the c-word and b-word of milspouse-land.

If you have no idea what a “dependapotamus”  is, check out the definition on Urban Dictionary:

Dependapotamus: Traditionally a service-members dependent who is a “stay at home mom” that doesn’t do a damn thing all day besides sitting on the couch looking remarkably similar to Jabba the Hutt leaching off of military benefits and eating anything that gets too close.


Are you as appalled as I am that dependapotamus has its own entry in the Urban Dictionary?


Secondly, who is spreading the myth of the dependapotamus?


Let’s break this down based on the definition.

Dependapotamus Defined

A Dependapotamus Is A Stay-At-Home Mom

I think stay-at-home moms get enough flak from the rest of the public, but when we are hearing it from other moms it’s even worse.

What is wrong with being a stay at home mom?  If you have children and work, you pay someone to watch your child, and that is acceptable, obviously.  But if you choose to not work watching your own child is suddenly a deplorable thing to do?

Newsflash, if you are paying someone to do the same thing a stay at home mom does, it’s not a piece of cake.

What I Did To Help Me Fall In Love With Staying Home

A Dependapotamus Does Nothing All Day

Like literally nothing? I’m pretty sure even us stay at home moms do SOMETHING. After all, I do have to get up and refresh my bon bon supply between soap operas.  (Please tell me you’re sensing the sarcasm here.)

A Dependapotamus Resembles Jabba the Hut

I don’t even know what to say to this one.  We all know that  American women struggle with body image issues.  And name-calling like this only goes to illustrate how acceptable weight discrimination is in our society. This is just uncalled for and unproductive and down right mean.

Is It Worth It To Get Involved In Your Military Community?

The Dependapotamus Is Endangered, If Not Extinct

Let’s be clear. With every stereotype, there comes a bit of truth.  We’d be totally naive to think that that there isn’t a military spouse out there that fits this definition, but to perpetuate this as the rule and not the exception is a huge problem.

You will usually see this term used by spouses on “support” sites. Spouse on spouse bullying is a big issue in the military world.  As military spouses, we are own biggest critics and enemies. No matter what kind of life you want to live there will be a milspouse bully or many bullies who want to judge you.

It is no shock that many spouses feel the need to stay away from “support” sites that are overrun with meanness and bullying. Based on some military spouse websites you would think so called “dependas” were overrunning every military base all over the world.

They are not. I promise you.

The dependapotamus is an endangered species, if not extinct.

And you know that, as a NextGen MilSpouse, the last thing you are is dependent, so you couldn’t be farther from a “dependapotamus.”



  1. Nice to see that there are those who find this term as offensive as I do. What’s really amazing is that I saw the article on FB on one of those support sites, and the first half a dozen comments completely missed the point of your article, insisting these creatures do exist. Apparently those folks live in glass houses, so they are entitled to pin this name on someone they’ve seen. Although something tells me they didn’t take the time to meet and learn who these women are. I wonder if they’ve ever thought about why that person is that way. What happened in their life to get them to that point. I’m fairly certain they’ve never walked a mile in her shoes…and yet it seems so easy to judge and name-call. There are so many times in my life I have been proud to be a part of the military community, and then there are times when I see words like this and am just ashamed.

    • Amen, we don’t know why the women who fit the stereotype are like that. It’s easy to call people names but it’s harder to get to know them. It’s very sad all around.

  2. I can’t even fathom this. I have mentioned before that we have been doing this for 18+ years and I have never encountered this term. What I will say is that women in general can be mean spirited to other women. I don’t think the military has a lock on that. We are always judging and being judged. It’s exhausting. Let’s be the group that breaks the cycle.

    • That is what I’m hoping we do too, but thus far to me it seems like this generation is the group that started serious bullying amongst milspouses.

  3. Great post! I read a blog a while ago by a military spouse that was so depressing in the way it portrayed other military spouses, specifically SAHM’s (I believe dependapotomus was the word used). I viewed it as “spouse on spouse crime”. And Jennifrr, I agree, it’s exhausting and let’s do be the group that breaks the cycle.

  4. A Dependapotamus is real. i have seen these toothless (or mostly toothless) smelly nasty women who sit on there Sofa or in there Garage all day smoke drink and Face Book it up! they are NOT made up, they are most defiantly not Extinct. Stay at home mom’s are fine, there is no excuse for a stay at home mom to have a FILTHY home. your there all day CLEAN IT UP! i have 5 kids i stay home now. My house is SPOTLESS!!! no dirty clothes, clean floors i wash the walls and keep my kids room/bathrooms clean. because THATS my job. provide a sanitary and clean area in witch to raise my children. My husband is NO LONGER military. at one time i made more money then him so dependa-anything I am not.

    • I absolutely agree! I’m a female Soldier (of 10 years now) AND a single parent. I’ve lived in housing as well as off post. It tends to be the junior Soldiers (in rank) that have wives like this. But as a stay at home mom your “duty description” includes house work and raising children…am I right? Every dependapotamus I’ve ever met has had a filthy house and bad ass kids. Kinda makes you a failure! As Soldiers progress and realize that having a stressful home life ON TOP of a stressful job isn’t necessary….the dependapotamus is usually the first to go. As a woman, I think these women are incredibly selfish and either didn’t know what to expect when they married a Soldier or are spoiled, lazy, worthless, breeders. I could go on and on all day about this because it is becoming more and more common..but YES DEPENDAPOTAMUS’ DO EXIST. DO NOT BECOME ONE. Not only is it not good for your children, but makes your Soldiers life harder. When one Soldier can’t get it together because his personal life is misery, everyone else has to pick up the slack.

  5. For the most part, its true. at least where We are. Most of the mothers do not take care of themselves, they let their kids run wild up and down the streets. We had a famiyl evicted from housing because her home was so trashed.

  6. Oh, quit getting your panties in a bunch. Yes, the term has some merit. Yes, some people are very deserving of the moniker. It’s just the truth. Instead of bashing those whose courage to speak the truth, try helping those who the word describes. Seriously, get these lazy good-for-nothings off the couch and oit of the house. It’ll make for a better military community, I bet.

  7. clearly, you have missed the point of the dependa.

  8. I think there is a LOT of truth behind the photo. And that’s why I don’t associate with military unless I meet them outside of the military setting. They make us all look bad.

    • By your reply it makes it sound as if you are grouping every military spouse into this derogatory name…so if you chose not to have any interaction with your husbands life/job and affiliation into what he does….how do you know or why do you even care about the other spouses unless you go to places to specifically find someone who is not 100% well manicured in the nicest clothing that day to purposely point them out to use for you own amusement (which doesn’t say a lot of good about your character).

  9. Not extinct In the last military housing neighborhood I lived in a pregnant women’s who’s husband was deployed needed help putting one of those 5 gallon waters On the machine- so I offered. In my flip flops I had to kick trash aside as I tried to make it across her house….and ok yes she was pregnant but I couldn’t see the carpet and her three yr old son was living in this mess too. I was so appalled and grossed out I didn’t know what to do. While there she even said to me ” I have a pet bird because if it poops I can’t smell it” and yes bird poop covered everything- so my question to you is how is this acceptable as a stay at home mom, or any mother for that matter! Pride in your home, and caring for your children is a priority. So how is this no job having, in mother like filth creating women not a dependa? Answer me this and maybe if you can come up with a miracle of an excuse for it I might entertain you!

  10. ^and that, ladies, is what we call a dependa. (Not you liz, but the person you talked about.)

  11. Definitely not extinct. And remember, what makes a dependa is not one thing or another, it’s a whole combination of things that leads to a non-productive member of society…lol. The definition left out a few key ingredients to that combination, such as an inflated sense of entitlement (i.e. demanding recognition for *their* “service”) and rank wearing. I actually knew a wife once that not only claimed her husband’s rank (by grilling me about my husband’s time in service and time in grade–seriously–because *she* wanted to be the highest ranking wife on the block–wtf?!?!), but also claimed her husband’s Purple Heart (another wtf?!?!). She sold Scentsy, let her kid ride his scooter in traffic, and gossiped and started drama with everyone in the neighborhood. THAT, my dear is a “dependapotamus”, and I’ve met far too many like her in the 13 years that my husband has been in. O.O

  12. It’s not just about being a stay at home mom. It’s about being home and doing nothing. Ever. Not taking care of yourself or your kids. Not caring about your appearance or the reflection of you and your family on your husband and his career. Because whether or not we want to believe it, our actions have an impact on the way our husband is perceived by his superiors and peers. As an frg leader during my husband’s recent deployment, we came across these types of women all. the. time. It makes us (and our husbands) wonder about what’s going on in their homes with the way some women act, and the way they treat their kids.

    No, not all SAHM’s are like this. Not all MilSpouses are like this. It’s not the norm, but it’s not just a few, either. Go to the commissary. Go to a shoppette. Go to the PX. I guarantee you’ll see at least a few women dressed in pajama pants, hair a mess, kids a mess, running amok and screaming.

    And yeah, we all have bad days where we feel like crap and have to run a quick errand and don’t have time to ‘get ready’ (or just don’t feel like it), and sometimes all of our kids are crazy. That’s not what the term is referring to. It’s the women who are like that ALL THE TIME (or at least the majority). I see them at my son’s school almost every day.

    • My question is how do you know it’s not just an every once in a while thing with the spouses you see like that…do you know them personally or are you at the same places every single day and see them like that EVERY time they are there. Also the same people on the sites making fun of people also make fun of the ones who do care about keeping up appearances for their spouse’s military career….Also being an FRG leader if you had a concern about the spouses during a deployment did you make it a point to talk to them, ask how they were doing, get to know them on a personal level (how many was this their first deployment, or first duty station, or first PCS) before you made judgment on them?

  13. I actually found your article from one of those sites, the primary one that created this particular idea of military spouses. I am not a fan of the page, I check it because I had someone make a snide remark toward me one day about my appearance (gained weight from chemo and hadn’t found a great shampoo yet that works with the new hair texture) and parenting while my kid (who has developmental/phonological/sensory/personality disorders) was having a total meltdown that came on suddenly and I had errands I had to finish, and then not so quietly mention verbatim “this is so going on ______’s page). There are people out there that do neglect and abuse their kids, there are people out there that do not take care of their living space, and there are military spouses out there that do spend their soldiers money and don’t care. The thing is these type of people are the exception…not the normal as these facebookers would have you believe. What I can’t figure out with these people is why sit and make fun of military spouses when you want nothing to do with the military community, they make fun of the programs (FRG, Functions, Events) and if you say something on these pages about it they say well unlike it and don’t look…why can’t they do the same thing? Because if women they are “calling” out really live like they are saying by calling them this derogatory name then they know them well enough and if trying to intervene hasn’t worked they need to call in the MP’s or DHS if children are being neglected and housing needs to know if their living quarters are that unihabbitable. But just my opinion.

  14. I understand that it is offensive to some, but, it is the truth. None of the sites that make fun of the overpopulation of ‘dependas’ in the world claim that every military significant other is one. The dependapotamus is far from extinct, I promise you. It is no where near “endangered” status yet. I have met fantastic spouses, and also the ones that throw their husband’s rank around like it is theirs. You don’t get a rank or title by marrying someone – it is EARNED. Sleeping with someone doesn’t earn you anything. As a female in the service, this is extremely irritating. The oh-so-popular saying, “Wife of a _____, toughest job in the _____” makes my freaking blood boil. There is nothing wrong with being a spouse (I am a spouse while active duty), but you better believe that when I get out of the service in 90 days, I will not FOR ONE SECOND believe that I am entitled to my husband’s rank.

  15. Sensitivity at its finest right here! Ladies (and gents if you’re reading this), stereotypes exist for a reason. If you dont like hearing other dependent spouses being called names then go out there and help them change. Otherwise, you’re stuck defending something that the average service member has become just as knowledgeable with as they are with their uniforms. If you do not belong in this category, then stop taking offense to it. Let humor exist where it may. We as service members say this and believe it for a reason. Go to your local base exchange or commissary and it is like seeing pictures of “People at Walmart.”

  16. How often do people complain about women who look disheveled all the time, are out of work, and are on food stamps and welfare and keep having babies. I’m not talking about those who have just going through a difficult time, but those who make it a way of life. These are the exact equivalent of a dependa. They leech off the military, often using their husband’s benefits irresponsibly, and don’t even make an effort to better themselves by making sure their home is clean for their kids. I don’t understand women who cant manage one child and maintain a household and then go have three more.

    What sets these women apart are two things. One, the dependa has a huge sense of entitlement and thinks because of what her husband has worked for, she is deserving of more respect that say, a PFC, wife. She isn’t. A wife is a wife… and the only thing a wife is competing with, is herself, to make sure her marriage is the best it can be. Two, these women could have a really nice life! The military provides, and your husband works hard. These women think they’re doing good, but settling for a gross house and unruly children, because she thinks shes too good to work hard.

    I think its a really admirable thing for someone in FRG to work really hard to encourage these women, but with the TRUE dependa, I think its futile. Women can really be awful. Everyone has experienced from cattiness to downright aggressive. A lot of times though, this behavior is coming from dependas who are angry with their life but don’t want to change it. But this is just calling it like it is. Some people just don’t know how to act.

  17. […] I bet you’re asking yourself, “what’s spouse shaming”?  Other than being a totally made up phrase derived from the concept of “slut shaming,” spouse shaming is merely my way of discussing a fairly popular military community cultural practice of military spouses, (and some of our servicemembers too) accusing other military spouses of being none other than a dependapotamus. […]

  18. […] (and some of our servicemembers, too) accusing other military spouses of being none other than a dependapotamus. Whether or not you believe that dependapotamuses…dependapotami?…exist, the label “dependa” […]

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