I can’t help but feel as though I have thoroughly misled my children.

Growing up, their mother and I taught them what we considered simple life lessons that would equip them for the world they would some day inherit.

  • Share. 
  • Don’t lie.
  • Wait your turn.
  • Be kind to others. 
  • Don’t talk about people behind their backs.
  • Skin color doesn’t matter. We’re all people.
  • Nationality doesn’t matter. We’re all people.
  • Sexuality doesn’t matter. We’re all people.
  • Religion doesn’t matter. We’re all people. 
  • Don’t look down on anyone different than us. It’s what’s in their hearts that matters.
  • Don’t pay attention to others who look down on us for not being wealthy. We’re rich in ways they could never understand. 

We raised good girls — good human beings. Their mother and I are proud of who they are. They are the best of us.

Unfortunately, they learned on Tuesday that the wisdom we imparted on them will not equip them for the world that they are about to inherit. The man we’ve elected president is the polar opposite of what we said is “right.” Everything we told them not to be and not to do was just held high as the example of what “leadership” is.

My oldest daughter — or “the Big One,” as my former WLVL listeners know her — watched election returns with me Tuesday night. We stayed up until Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump to concede the election. She was a Sanders supporter originally but supported Clinton over Trump — for all the reasons I’ve listed above. She was heartbroken by the results of the election. And I’ve been trying to think for two days what exactly to say to her … and her sister. From my point of view, the country they live in just told them that their ideals are wrong, being a good person doesn’t matter, and using the wrong email is worse than using inflammatory language … especially if you’re a woman.

Personally, I’m used to being in the minority. I didn’t vote for Clinton or Trump. So I’m not exactly heartbroken that Clinton didn’t win. But I’m devastated to see that racism and misogyny is “OK” with America in 2016. Especially because of the message that it sends to my daughters.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t remember another tidbit of wisdom that we imparted on the girls.

  • Do the right thing because it’s the right thing. 

Just because our opinion of what’s right wasn’t validated by millions of strangers doesn’t make it any less right. Just because others don’t share doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Just because others don’t wait doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Just because others lie, doesn’t mean we should. Just because others aren’t kind doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be. Just because others gossip doesn’t make it OK. Just because others are cruel and superficial doesn’t make it OK. In short, the bad behavior of others doesn’t mean we should behave badly.

To my daughters, I’m sorry America failed you. I hope you’ll continue to be the incredible people you’ve been for years … even if the only reward for your virtues is in the knowing that you are virtuous.

I expect you to respect our new president. And I expect you to be respectful of his supporters … even if they aren’t respectful of you or the things you believe in. And I know you’ll do this because you’re good girls — good human beings. And if you get no other reward for your kindness, you’ll always have my love.

+Scott Leffler is a father before all else. And a proud one, at that. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.

This column was originally published on All WNY News.