But some parents go too far, experts point out, and end up teaching very wrong lessons.
Parents such as Priscilla Ceballos -- the Texas woman who tried to win tickets for her six-year-old daughter for a concert by Miley Cyrus, better-known as Hannah Montana, byan essay-writing contest and claim help her father had died in Iraq.
Ceballos later admitted to a local TV station, "We never said anything like this was a true story, never. It was just an essay."
It was hardly the first time mothers had gone to extremes for their kids.
In 2006, 16-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide. Later, her parents found out she had been tormented on MySpace.com by someone she thought was a boy named Josh Evans, but who was.
"She knew our daughter struggled with depression," Megan's father, Ron, said later, "and was on medication since she was in third grade."
But perhaps the most memorable meddling mother was Wanda Holloway, the Texas woman who tried to help her daughter make the cheerleading squad by hiring a hit-man to kill the mother of a rival cheerleader.
Said prosecutor Alice Brown at the time, "I think it's the act of a person who is used to getting what she wanted, and when she was frustrated, was willing to go a little farther than most of us might go."
On The Early Show Wednesday, psychotherapist Dr. Leslie Austin, Ph.D. told co-anchor Harry Smith, "I don't think these moms are bad people, but they're really modeling the wrong values for their kids. And what they're broadcasting is, 'I want what I want, I want it now, I'll do anything I can to get it.' That's what they're telling their kids, including, 'Lie, cheat, and steal,' which is not OK."
"Really," Austin continued, "it would be better if (Ceballos) were teaching her daughter, 'You do your best, you try to get what you want, and if you don't get it, life will present you with other opportunities. You have to get a habit of resiliency, self-respect, good values.' This is instant gratification over long-term values, and it's a bad road to go down."
In her practice, Austin says, she's seeing a growing number of extra-meddlesome parents, and that sort of upbringing is showing up now in the business world, where you have "kids who grew up with this ... 'I'm important. Anything I want, I get. It doesn't matter what I have to do or who I have to harm to get it.' In corporate America, we have an energy and a mood now that it's OK to do anything as a company, just to succeed and sell things.
"But, where are the ethics, the values, the self-respect as an individual? Where are the basic, old-fashioned values? 'Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, and most of all, don't retaliate, even just for practical reasons. It will always come back and get you. ' "
Which comes first, Smith wondered? Is it a societal message parents are taking, or the other way around?
"It's a chicken / egg question," Austin asserted. "They both feed each other. Our media, which I'm now speaking on, can do great things, but also we broadcast some really negative images sometimes. We idolize pop stars who have really bad values as parents and as people. They may be great performers, but they're not great role models, and we idolize them and follow them and obsess. So, our kids say, 'This one has all this money and all this fame, and look how great they are, and everybody follows them around, the paparazzi.'
" ... It's not a good sense of values and parenting. You really want to teach your kids to have self-respect, develop a habit of being resilient, to have ethics, and take the long view instead of instant gratification."
Austin added, "Here's the really important thing: I know it's hard for parents. Your child is a separate person from you, and you have to grow them up properly. I know that sounds very old-fashioned. But I need to sound old-fashioned. You really have to teach them values. You have to teach them, 'You don't always get what you want. ... Life goes on. You are more important, as a person -- you have more self-respect than any concert, any MP-3 player, any video game, and if you don't get those things, and you don't have the things all your friends have, you can still be a really good person and you can get them if you earn them.' That's a different set of values.
"Unfortunately, we're in a very protective culture, the one who has the most toys, wins -- the one who has the most money, the most fame. And, really, you've got to remind yourself -- you're a good person. Most Americans are not famous or rich and they're really good people and they live very good lives, and their kids grow up to be happy."