Growing up I was taught by my parents to address my elders as "Usted" in Spanish instead of "Tu".
Though they never told me to refer to them like that as well. Now that I think of it that would be extremely strange for me to say Usted to my parents.
Anywho, I tend to be silently horrified when I hear a cousin or a co-worker say Tu to an elder. A couple of my cousins speak spanish only once every blue moon so if they forget the "rules" about how to speak to our grandparents I suppose its alright.
(....yikes). And since they're family I take the liberty to correct them.
The person could be older by thirty years or by seventeen or even ten years. In any case it's been ingrained in me to think that it's unacceptable to speak to them as if we're equals. Yes, we are all equal as human beings. I'm talking about respect and being respectful to the older and wiser and having a deferent attitude towards abuela y abuelo. Another example of this would be when holding the door open, grandparents always go first, followed by parents, then myself. The oldest goes first and the youngest enters or exits last. Again, it would be a big NO NO for me to skip ahead and go in first before my grandparents. All of this may seem a bit old fashioned to some but this is the way I grew up. I'm interested to know how other families do it?
Okay back to the Usted and Tu deal!
There are times when I really want to correct people around me and tell them that it's really inappropriate to "tutear" someone you don't personally know, or an elder. Then again, I'm wondering if it varies by country or by family upbringing? What do you think chicas?