We use terms of respect for elders. By which I mean, people older than us! Our whole family addresses strangers as "sir" or "ma'am". (We are from the Northwest, but perhaps this is a carryover from our Boston roots three generations ago?) Children address elders as Mr or Ms. Firstname, unless the adult has a specific preference. We have a group of friends at the park from all over the country--the northwest, midwest, northeast, and south--and everybody does the same.
|It was always nice when someone said it was okay to just use the first name but embarrassing to be corrected the other way around ("You should call me Mr. Lastname.") so I definitely prefer to err on the side of a more formal address.
With family it's different. Your cousins from an older generation, or aunts and uncles, are Aunt Firstname, Uncle Firstname. Grandma, Grandpa, etc.
In my husband's culture, older children are addressed as "Big Sister" or "Big Brother" and adults, as Aunt Firstname and Uncle Firstname.
In DH's culture, this stems from the explicit belief that children should respect elders as authority figures because adults are more experienced. I think in my western culture, this is more of an implicit belief that might be questioned if stated outright. But I suppose I do think there's a grain of truth. It's not a question of virtue or deserving something. I certainly respect older people more and treat them with the respect I think their age and experience calls for, even though I'm an adult.